What may increase your risk for problems from a cut, bite, or other skin injury?

Many conditions, lifestyle choices, medicines, and diseases interfere with your ability to heal or fight infection. You may be at risk for a more serious problem from your symptoms if you have any of the following. Be sure to tell your doctor.


  • A problem or condition present since birth (congenital defect)
  • Age older than 60
  • Artificial joint or heart valve
  • Skin injury while traveling in a foreign country or in the United States near the border with Mexico
  • Child younger than 6 months old
  • Malnutrition
  • Obesity
  • Previous surgery to remove the lymph nodes near the skin injury
  • Previous similar injury
  • Previous surgery to injured area
  • Previous surgery to remove the spleen
  • Swelling (edema) in the limb where the injury occurred
  • Unknown or uncertain tetanus immunization history

Lifestyle choices

  • Alcohol abuse or withdrawal
  • Drug abuse or withdrawal
  • Smoking or other tobacco use


  • Anticoagulants, such as aspirin, heparin, and warfarin (Coumadin)
  • Corticosteroids, such as prednisone
  • Medicines to prevent organ transplant rejection
  • Medicines used to treat cancer (chemotherapy)
  • Radiation therapy


  • Anemia
  • An eating disorder, such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa
  • Autoimmune diseases, such as lupus
  • Bleeding disorder, such as hemophilia or von Willebrand's disease
  • Cancer
  • Decreased blood flow, such as venous insufficiency or peripheral arterial disease
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection
  • Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP)
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sickle cell disease

Last Updated: June 10, 2008

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