Second-degree, third-degree, and fourth-degree burns are susceptible to infection. Follow your doctor’s orders to prevent infection, know what an infected burn looks like, monitor your burn wound so you know if it is infected, and report any signs of infection to your doctor immediately.

Symptoms of a burn infection may include:

  • Fever
  • Increased pain
  • Red streaks around the burn
  • Purplish color change
  • Other change in appearance
  • Swelling
  • Discharge, ooze, or pus
  • Warmth in burn area

Here is a little more about each of these symptoms:


Low-grade fevers (less than 101 degrees Fahrenheit), may not be a sign of infection. But anything 101 degrees F and above may suggest infection. Inform your doctor right away.

Increased Pain

Pain is obviously common after a burn injury. But you should start to notice a gradual reduction in pain in the days following your injury. If you do not feel any improvement or if your pain becomes worse, it may be a sign of infection, warranting medical attention.

Red Streaks & Other Changes in Color or Appearance

Some degree of redness is to be expected around a burn wound. But if the redness does not gradually go away, or if it gets more noticeable, it could indicate that the wound has become infected. This often presents itself as red streaks coming from the burn wound.

Inform your doctor of any color changes, including burn wounds that become more purplish, or any other changes in appearance.


Swelling around the burn wound is also normal after the injury, but like redness around the burn wound, it should gradually go away. If it does not, tell your doctor, as it could be a sign of infection.

Discharge, Ooze, or Pus

While some drainage from the wound may be normal, a cloudy discharge with a foul odor may be indicative of an infection. If you are unsure whether the discharge from your wound is worrisome, ask your doctor.

Is my burn infected or just healing?

As noted above, some redness, swelling, and discharge from the burn wound is not uncommon. It is when these symptoms do not improve that your wound may be infected, rather than merely going through the normal healing process. If you suspect your burn is infected, consult your doctor.

What is the danger of an infected burn?

An untreated infected burn wound can lead to sepsis, which is an infection that travels through the blood and can cause organ failure, shock, and death. Some infections may also necessitate amputation in severe cases.

Thus, it is vital to recognize the signs of a burn wound infection and inform your doctor right away to receive treatment.