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Skin protects the body from infection. Breaks in the skin can occur
through punctures (like a nail or a thorn), abrasions (scrapes
or scratches), or lacerations (rips in the skin tissue).
Healthy individuals can develop infections through wounds in the skin. However,
it is more likely that persons with underlying immune system (the body's ability to fight infection) problems will develop wound
infections if a break in their skin occurs. The October 26, 2005, issue of JAMA includes an article about use of supplemental oxygen
to decrease the risk of surgical wound infections.
The incision (cut) in the skin performed for
an operation can become infected. Surgical wound infections can range from
redness surrounding a small portion of the incision to deeper infections involving
underlying muscles or to a severe infection spread through the bloodstream.
Doctors take precautions to prevent surgical wound infections, including use
of sterile (free from germs) procedures and instruments
and appropriate use of antibiotics. Risk factors for surgical wound infections
include diabetes, emergency procedures, smoking, severe obesity, altered immune
function, malnutrition, low body temperature, and long operation times.
Torpy JM, Burke A, Glass RM. Wound Infections. JAMA. 2005;294(16):2122. doi:https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.294.16.2122
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