Is my C-section scar OK?

c-section scar

By Aaron Kandola 

Reviewed by Valinda Riggins Nwadike

Signs | Diagnosis | Causes | Prevention | Outlook

Fever-like symptoms and
inflammation around a cesarean delivery, or C-section, wound could be signs of
infection. Keeping the wound clean and in a sterile environment can help reduce
the risk of infection.

Infections following a
cesarean delivery, which some people call a C-section, are common. They occur
in around 2–15 percent of all C-section surgeries.
The wound coming into contact
with bacteria or other harmful microbes is a common cause of these infections.
Different causes can lead to different types of infection, such as cellulitis
or urinary tract infections.
This article will discuss
signs of C-section wound infections, as well as some prevention tips.


After a C-section, it is
normal to experience some swelling, redness, and pain around the wound.
In some cases, clear fluid may
also seep out of the wound.
However, with wound infections,
these symptoms increase in intensity.
Signs and symptoms to look out
for include:

  • abnormal swelling, redness,
    and pain around the wound
  • clear or discolored fluid
    coming from the wound
  • abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • pain or swelling in the legs
  • abdominal discomfort
These symptoms may occur with
fever-like symptoms such as:

  • sweating
  • temperature over 100.4°F
  • headache
  • chills
  • loss of appetite
  • dehydration
  • fatigue
  • muscle aches
  • difficulty concentrating
Signs of infection may not
show up immediately after surgery. It can take up to 30 days for symptoms to
develop. If symptoms do develop, it is important to see a doctor as soon as
possible for guidance on the best treatment.


Diagnosing a C-section wound
infection is fairly straightforward. A doctor will first try to determine the
presence and severity of an infection through a physical examination. They will
then examine the wound and ask about the presence of fever-like symptoms.
Further tests may be necessary
to determine the type of infection and most suitable treatment. This will
usually require taking a sample from the wound and sending it to a laboratory
for analysis.
The results of these tests can
provide information about the infection, such as the type of microbes causing
it. This information will help a doctor decide how to treat the condition.


Harmful microbes coming into
contact with the C-section wound cause the infection.
The bacterium Staphylococcus aureus
is the most common microbe to cause C-section wound infections.
Other common types of bacteria
that can cause the infection include Enterococcus and Escherichia coli.
Antibiotic medications are the usual treatment for bacterial infections.
The infection can be
incisional, or it can be an organ or space infection.
Incisional infections affect
the wound site itself, either in the skin or the deeper tissues around the
wound. Cellulitis is an example of an incisional infection.
Organ and space infections
occur when the microbes reach the surrounding areas and organs, such as the
bladder or urinary tract.
Certain factors increase the
risk of experiencing a C-section wound infection. These include:

  • obesity
  • age
  • living in rural areas
  • diabetes
  • hypertensive disorders
  • twin pregnancy
  • a greater number of vaginal
  • longer periods of labor
  • epidural use
  • recurrent pregnancy loss
There are also factors
relating to the C-section surgery itself that can raise the risk of infection,
such as a longer surgery time.
Antimicrobial prophylaxis is a
medication that doctors once prescribed following C-sections. However, recent
research has suggested that this medication can also increase the risk of


There are several factors that
can help reduce the risk of a C-section wound infection.
Before surgery, these include:

  • maintaining a healthy weight
  • keeping blood sugar levels
  • not smoking
Factors to prevent infection
after surgery include:

  • keeping the wound clean with
    soap and warm water
  • covering the wound for as long
    as the doctor advises
  • avoiding baths, hot tubs, and
    swimming pools
  • adhering to any prescribed
    courses of medication
  • not wearing tight-fitting

C-section wound infections are
not uncommon. They occur when harmful microbes, such as the bacterium S.
aureus, reach the wound site.
These infections are typically
straightforward to treat with antibiotics. Recovery times may vary depending on
different factors, such as the severity of the infection.
It is, however, possible to
reduce the risk of infection by maintaining a healthful lifestyle before the
surgery. Following the surgery, it is best to avoid exposing the wound to
unsterile environments and keep it clean to avoid infections.

Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.