1. Section Editor(s): Hess, Cathy Thomas BSN, RN, CWOCN, Department Editor

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What's the Sign?

Traditionally, erythema, heat, edema, pain, and purulent drainage have been considered the classic signs of infection. With the exception of pain, however, these classic signs may not be present in a patient with a chronic wound, especially if the patient is immunosuppressed.


Instead, the following signs and symptoms have been suggested as being better indicators of infection in a chronic wound:


* serous drainage with concurrent inflammation


* delayed healing


* discoloration of or friable granulation tissue


* pocketing at the base of the wound


* foul odor


* wound breakdown.





Gardner SE, Franz RA. Wound bioburden. In: Baranoski S, Ayello EA, editors. Wound Care Essentials. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2004.