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How to Prevent Cuts From Getting Infected

Preventing Lymphangitis

©2006 Publications International, Ltd. People who have cellulitis or a skin abscess are at increased risk for lymphangitis.

Bacteria, most commonly Streptococcus, are to blame for lymphangitis. This infection is usually a complication of an abscess or cellulitis.

Lymphangitis Infection Information

Lymphangitis is a bacterial infection of the lymphatic vessels, which work with the lymph nodes to set your body's immune system to work. Potentially harmful bacteria enter your body through a wound and travel to the lymph nodes via the lymph vessels; the lymph nodes then send out the white blood cell cavalry. But when invading bacteria overwhelm the vessels that connect your lymph nodes, or when the lymph vessels simply aren't able to mount a defense, they become infected, and you get lymphangitis. The condition is typically a complication of cellulitis or a skin abscess and is not the same thing as "blood poisoning," or bacteremia, which is when there are bacteria in the blood.


Symptoms of lymphangitis include chills, fever, rapid heartbeat, and headache, but the telltale signs are red streaks that are warm and tender to the touch and appear underneath the skin in the infected area. The infection can spread to the lymph nodes and cause lymphadenitis. Most people recover completely after a round of antibiotics.

Who's at Risk for Lymphangitis?

People who have, or are at higher risk for developing, cellulitis or a skin abscess are at increased risk for lymphangitis. Some dog and cat bites can cause the condition, so those who spend time with furry friends are more susceptible. In addition, some wounds sustained in freshwater environments can lead to lymphangitis, so you have a greater chance of running into this infection if you spend a lot of time at a lake.

Defensive Measures Against Lymphangitis

Following the tips for preventing cellulitis and skin abscesses will help protect you from lymphangitis. You also should be thorough when cleaning animal bite wounds, and be sure to use an antibacterial ointment.

Wound infections can be painful, but in many cases these infections can be avoided by using common sense and good hygiene. Use this information to keep your cuts and scrapes infection-free.


Michele Price Mann is a freelance writer who has written for such publications as Weight Watchers magazine and Southern Living magazine. Mann formerly was an assistant health and fitness editor at Cooking Light magazine.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.