Wound Odor

Jeffrey M. Levine's picture

By Jeffrey M. Levine, MD, AGSF, CWSP

The malodor that emanates from some wounds has been recognized throughout human history, as starkly demonstrated in the ancient Greek play named after the principal character, Philoctetes. Written by Sophocles in the fifth century BCE, Philoctetes (pronounced fil-ok-tee’-teez) was a warrior of outstanding marksmanship who set out to win the hand of Helen of Troy, considered the most beautiful woman in the world. On the journey, his foot was bitten by a snake. The bite caused a chronic, painful wound that emitted such a foul odor that his fellow soldiers abandoned him on the deserted island of Lemnos.