Having a baby is one of the most ethereal experiences you can go through. Whether it’s a normal delivery or a C-section, you must be going through an emotional rollercoaster right now. However, if it was C-section, there is something you have to worry about: infection of the scar. So it’s only natural that you are trying to learn about the signs of c scar infections.
According to studies, the rates of C -sections have more than doubled in India. Like any other surgical incision, the C-section wound, too, has a chance of getting infected. As such, it is important to be on the lookout for these possible infections. But don’t be too worried! This article will help you identify and deal with C-section scar infection signs.
What Are the Chances Of Getting An Infection After C-Section?
According to studies:
- Surgical site infection (SSI) or C-section infections is one of the most common complications after a C-section. Around 3%–15% of C-sections ends up with an infection
- Around 3% of maternal mortality after a C-section happens due to SSI
While Caesarean sections are generally considered safe, the above findings are quite alarming. C-section infections can happen not only on the surgical site but can also happen in the uterus or belly.
The chances of getting infection after C-section mainly depends on the purpose of the C-section. A planned C-section usually has low risk compared to an emergency C-section.
This is because in the planned C-section doctors and patients have more time to prepare for the surgery. Emergency C-section, on the other hand, happens when the attempt of normal delivery goes wrong or due to unforeseen complications. This can contribute to C-section infections.
Whether planned or in case of emergency, there are certain do’s & don’ts after a C-section that should be followed to minimizing the risk of complications.
Top Factors That Increases The Risk Of C-section Infections
The odds of catching an infection after C-section are not as high as in the past. Some factors, however, may increase the possibility of contracting C-section infections. One recent study states that using nylon or staple sutures in incision sites increases the chances of developing an infection.
According to NCBI, risk factors of C-section infections can be divided into three categories:
1. Host-related factors
Host-related risk factors entirely depend on the mother. Maternal risk factor comprises:
- Age of mother; both older mother and even the young ones
- Obesity and excessive fat layers in the incision area
- Recurrent pregnancy loss
- Maternal preoperative health conditions like poorly controlled diabetes
- Taking immunosuppressant medication
- Recurrent pregnancy loss
- Previous C-sections
- Not receiving sufficient care
2. Pregnancy and intrapartum-related factors
Pregnancy-related factors include:
- High blood pressure issues
- Preterm rupture of membranes
- Gestational diabetes mellitus
- Greater number of vaginal examinations
- Epidural use
- Prolonged labor before surgery
- Twin pregnancy
- Usage of internal fetal monitoring
3. Procedure-related factors
Procedure-related factors include:
- C-section performed in an emergency setting
- Large incision scar
- A necessity for blood transfusion
- Cesarean hysterectomy
- Non-use of prophylactic antibiotics
- Surgeries of longer duration (more than 1 hour) are found to double the risk of contracting SSI (Surgical Site Infection)
Related Reading: 11 Foods To Avoid After Caesarean Delivery – Know Them Here
Types Of C-section Infections
There are mainly 4 types of C-section infections, divided on the basis of the organs they generally infect.
These can be painful and itchy – and make you feel very irritable.
- Superficial, fluid-filled blisters appear in the incision sites
- The blisters rupture in due course forming honey-colored crusts
- Impetigo type of infection can be excruciatingly painful and itchy
Being an infection of the skin, they can spread rapidly.
- This infection affects the skin and the tissues beneath it
- This kind of infection spread fast from the incision area
- The tissue nearby the incision area starts to appear red and swells up
- This kind of infection is quite painful and feels warm
- Pus seldom present
Painful and pus filled, these infections can be really incomfortable.
- The areas around the wound edges begin to swell
- Feel warm and painful
- Pus begins oozing out from the incision
- Here, the infection reaches the uterus starting to irritate the uterine lining
- Endometriosis causes extreme abdominal pain and abnormal vaginal discharge
- High fever usually accompanies these kinds of infections
Related Reading: How To Deal With Hip Pain After Delivery?
9 Signs Of A C-Section Infection To Watch Out For
Sometimes, harmful microbes coming into contact with the C-section wound cause the infection. If the infectious microbes further spread, it can bring about a uterine or abdominal infection.
The C-section scar infection signs usually appear within a few days of surgery. Even though seldom, reports are showing the appearance of C-section scar infection years later.
It is important to look out for the signs of C-section infection. The signs mostly depend on how far the infection has spread and how intense the infection is. Here is how to know if your C-section scar is infected:
As in the case of any infections, fever is one of the classic signs of c scar infections. The mother develops fever along with pain at the site of the incision. The temperature rises above 100.50 F. High and persisting fever (that lasts more than 24 hours) is the primary sign of infection.
2. Unbearable pain
It is quite normal that the incision wound feels sore and battered during the initial days after the C-section. That is why doctors prescribe pain killers. However, if the pain is not subsiding even after having painkillers and if the pain is intense enough to restrict the movements, count it as a warning sign. If the new mother is not even able to sit due to abdominal pain it could be a sign of infection. New mothers should be aware of how to deal with tailbone pain after a C-section.
3. Urinary issues
According to studies, cesarean delivery potentially increased the risk of contraction UTIs. Due to an intense burning sensation accompanied by pain the mother finds it hard to pee.
4. Changes in the incision area
This is one of the classic C-section scar infection signs. The area of the incision turns reddish and swollen. It feels warm and painful. Consider these changes as signs of internal infection that require medical attention
5. Swelling in legs
Seek medical attention right away if you have one-sided swelling and pain in one of your legs. Swelling and leg pain could indicate a more serious problem, such as deep vein thrombosis (blood clot). Deep vein thrombosis is a potential complication following a C-section.
6. Bleeding in the scar
Blood oozing from the scar is a medical emergency. The scar may tear, necessitating immediate medical attention.
7. Pus formation at the site
Yellow discharge from C-section incision is typical of C scar infection. Pus formation in the incision site necessitates medical attention. Normally, as the incision heals it turns dry. Pus or any liquid oozing out indicates an infection
8. Unnatural vaginal bleeding
If the vaginal bleeding increases and contain blood clots, bring it to the attention of a doctor. Excessive vaginal bleeding after the C-section can be a sign of infection.
9. Smelly discharge
A foul-smelling vaginal discharge may indicate a C-section infection. Lochia with a fishy odor or lochia that is greenish is a sign of bacterial contamination. Foul-smelling discharge from the wound of surgery also indicates an infection.
Related Reading: 12 Important Tips For After Delivery Care
How Do You Treat An Infected C-Section?
Antibiotics are commonly used to treat C-section scar infections. Antibiotic cream is applied topically and tablets are taken orally to help in the treatment of the infection. The antibiotic used to treat the infection is determined by the type of bacteria that caused the infection.
Less severe infections, such as cellulitis, usually resolve after one to two cycles of antibiotics. If, on the other hand, fluid is oozing out from the wound or if the wound appears splitting rather than closing, much more aggressive treatment is required.
In this case, the doctor will typically perform minor surgery to remove the blisters and the puss. Following the surgery, the doctor will apply antiseptic to the affected area. He also covers the wound with gauze that has antimicrobial properties to prevent the chances of further infection.
During an examination, the doctor may discover dead tissue in the wound. In that case, they will peel and scrape the layers of dead tissue away until they reach healthy tissue. After that, regular monitoring of the wound will be initiated.
Related Reading:12 Relevant Things To Know Before Choosing A Gynecologist
When should I be concerned about a C-section incision?
Usually, infections appear within a week after the surgery. The appearance of signs of C-section infection after 4 weeks is also common. On the other hand, contracting C-section scar infection months later is also not rare. For example, infections like Postpartum endometriosis (an infection of the lining of the womb) can happen one and a half months after childbirth.
Normal pain and itching in the incision site during the initial weeks of surgery is common and no need to worry about it. However, if the pain becomes unbearable to an extent that it hurts a lot even you move slowly, C-section incision should be a concern.
Likewise, any signs of infections also necessitate immediate medical attention.
Related Reading: 40 Days After Delivery – 8 Precautions And 6 Ways To Spend Them
Scar infections from the C-section can be exasperating for the mother who is trying to recover from the procedure. It may cause you to miss out on the first few days of motherhood, and increase your recovery time.
You can reduce this risk by following the required precautions and trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle before and after the surgery. That way, there will be nothing stopping you from revelling in the feeling of motherhood.
The pain in the C-section area can appear years later. More often this is because by that time the nerve ends that are damaged during the process of surgery start to regenerate.
Experiencing itching in the incision area is a part of the healing process. However, never attempt to scratch the area as scratching can trigger infection.