Undergoing a C-section brings with it a certain set of risks, but they are not just found during the surgery itself. In some cases, a c-section wound infection can occur up to several weeks after the procedure.
It’s important for all moms-to-be, regardless of their planned method of delivery, to know how to properly care for a wound after surgery.
What is an infected c-section wound?
An infected c-section wound occurs at the surgical incision site following a C-section, usually bacterial in origin. Though it can affect any woman who has undergone a C-section, those most at risk are those with diabetes, or immunosuppressive disorders, such as HIV.
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Nevertheless, if a mom has been taking steroids for a prolonged period of time, she is also at risk. Other risk factors are:
- insufficient prenatal care
- a history of C-sections
- prolonged labor or surgery
- heavy blood loss during surgery;
- Or if they didn’t take antibiotics or were not given proper sterile care pre-surgery.
What are the signs of c-section infection and symptoms of an infected c-section wound?
Suspect a cesarean infection if you note the following signs of c-section infection:
- High fever (38ºC and above)
- Wound sensitivity
- Severe pain in the lower abdomen
- Redness, pain, swelling, pus discharge from the incision site
- Leg pain or leg swelling
- Pain upon urination
- Vaginal discharge that is foul in odor
- Profuse bleeding (Soaking a feminine pad in just an hour)
- Bleeding with large clots
Though a c-section wound infection can happen weeks after a mom is discharged, it can also occur while a mom is still in the hospital.
Medical staff will note how a wound looks or how long it takes to heal. They can also observe a wound for common infection symptoms as well as certain types of bacteria.
What causes an infected c-section wound?
Photo by Jonathan Borba
Infections start when bacteria get inside a wound. Staphylococcus aureus, usually referred to as staph bacteria, is thought to be the source of 15-20%Trusted Source of post-cesarean wound infections.
Human skin and hair are naturally home to staph bacteria. When they proliferate and penetrate into a wound, they have the capacity to induce a variety of infections.
Staph can cause the following post-cesarean wound infections:
- Small, fluid-filled blisters caused by impetigo burst, leaving honey-colored crusts behind. It can be very painful and itchy.
- Sores that develop beneath the skin and are filled with pus and dead skin are called abscesses. They could feel hot and achy.
- Cellulitis is an infection of the tissues immediately below the skin. The signs and symptoms, which are frequently uncomfortable, crimson, and heated to the touch, can quickly spread from the incision site outward.
Wound infections often take 4–7 days to manifest. If the symptoms manifest within 28 hours, the strep bacteria, often referred to as streptococcus, may be to blame.
Strep infections can result in erysipelas. The lymphatic system is additionally impacted by this type of cellulitis. Women with erysipelas typically have red, shiny, raised lesions with sharp edges.
C section wound infection treatment
Photo by Anna Shvets
It’s simple to spot an infection in a C-section site. The first step in identifying the presence and severity of an infection is a physical examination by a doctor. Next, they will examine the incision and check for any fever-like symptoms.
Additional tests might be necessary to determine the type of illness and the best course of management. Typically, to do this, a wound sample must be removed and sent to a lab for analysis.
Lastly, the test results can have information regarding the infection, such as the type of germs causing it. A clinician can use this information to decide on a course of treatment.
How do you treat an infected c-section wound?
Clearly, antibiotics are usually prescribed for several days to help resolve a bacterial infection. These are important in cases of Cellulitis, or infections caused by staphylococcal and streptococcal bacteria.
In the case of wound abscesses, antibiotics are the best course of treatment, accompanied by wound care and pus drainage through making a new incision on the area.
Lastly, antiseptic gauze is applied and close monitoring is done to make sure the wound is healing properly.
How can you prevent an infected c-section wound?
Furthermore, there are measures to prevent this from happening especially in moms who have had C-sections in the past.
Here are some tips to prevent a cesarean wound infection:
- Strictly adhere to post-op and wound care instructions given by your doctor or nurse
- Take antibiotics religiously, without skipping doses
- Regularly change wound dressings and thoroughly clean your wound
- Refrain from wearing tight clothing or applying lotions or creams on the wound
- Don’t force yourself to carry your baby if you are uncomfortable. Do not apply too much pressure on the wound. Seek help to find a good position for breastfeeding.
- Keep skin folds from coming into contact with the wound area
- Always take your temperature. Call the doctor immediately.
- If you note any of the symptoms mentioned above—pus, redness, pain, swelling—call for help immediately. Remember, post-cesarean wound infection can happen weeks after you are discharged from the hospital.
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