Wound Infections

The skin provides a remarkable barrier to a world where micro-organisms are ubiquitous.  The Stratum Corneum, the most outer layer of the epidermis, forms as epidermal cells die and form a tight barrier.  When this barrier is broken, bacteria can enter the skin and cause wound infections.  This barrier is commonly disrupted during surgery and trauma and this is where we most commonly see wound infections.  In severe cases, these can be life-threatening and require an aggressive surgical approach combined with antibiotics.  Infections deep to the skin are referred to as an abscess, often filled with pus.  Abscesses should be promptly drained to avoid systemic sepsis.  Wound infections can also be caused by foreign materials such as permanent sutures or prostheses.  These often need to be removed to resolve the infectious process.  Bacteria resistant to common antibiotics have emerged and further complicate the treatment of wound infections.  Understanding the pathogenesis and treatment options is critical to deal with these challenging medical conditions.

Recommended Readings:

http://www.psenetwork.org/Library/ForStudents - Chapter1