Wound Care

Wound Care

Wounds (skin lesions and infections) and other health problems are commonly caused by injecting drug use. These can occur because of the injection mixture, technique and site, or from years of repeated injecting. They can also occur when people do not have access to adequate supplies of clean water and clean injecting equipment, and they re-use damaged equipment that has not been cleaned properly.

Common problems related to injecting are:

  • abscesses
  • inflammation of the veins
  • blood clots
  • deep skin infections
  • leg ulcers

Signs and symptoms of wound infections include:

  • high fever, chills
  • heat, swelling, redness, aches and pain around the wound, joint or muscles
  • pus and an unpleasant smell from the wound site
  • a wound that will not heal
  • skin abscess – a painful collection of pus in a lump under the skin
  • cellulitis – red, painful, hot, swollen, tender, blistered skin
  • a fast heartbeat
  • dizziness, confusion, disorientation
  • shortness of breath, fast breathing or having difficulty breathing
  • coughing up mucus
  • pain in the chest

Untreated bacterial infections can lead to serious complications.  If you are concerned about a wound and need advice contact your local GP surgery or A&E out of hours.  The Shetland Recovery Hub and Substance Misuse Recovery Service (SMRS) can provide help for people who need support in attending or organising appointments for wound care.

Retrieved from  – Wound aware: a resource for commissioners and providers of drug services – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Further useful information –

Scottish Drugs Forum – Looking after your Wounds at Home leaflet – SDF

Scottish Wound Care Guide PWID (sdf.org.uk)

Reducing Injecting Harms: a National Wound Care Guide for Scotland Webinar – YouTube