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Wounds

Alternate Names

  • lacerations
  • cuts

Definition

A wound is any injury resulting in the breaking of the skin.

Risks

What are the causes and risks of the injury?

Many of the common causes of wounds are everyday objects, including the following:
  • glass
  • knives
  • pieces of wood
  • punctures due to needles, pins, nails, and hooks
  • splinters
  • scrapes from falling
  • zippers
Animal and human bites can also cause wounds. Wounds that are dirty or do not receive the necessary medical attention promptly are at high risk of becoming infected.

Prevention

What can be done to prevent the injury?

Proper use of knives, scissors, firearms, and breakables is important. Dangerous objects should be kept out of the reach of children.

Diagnosed

How is the injury recognized?

The healthcare professional can diagnose a wound by asking questions and observing the skin. In some cases, it is necessary for the professional to probe a wound carefully to see if deeper tissues have been injured.

Treatments

What are the treatments for the injury?

Treatment varies, depending on the type of wound. It is important to thoroughly wash the hands prior to giving first aid.
For treatment of scrapes:
  • Wash the scrape thoroughly with mild soap and water.
  • Apply an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment.
  • Cover the area with a clean bandage.
For treatment of splinters:
  • Use clean tweezers to pull out the splinter at the same angle that it went in.
  • If the splinter is just under the skin, use a sterilized needle to lift it out.
  • Wash the area thoroughly with mild soap and water.
  • If there is a large area of open skin, apply an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment.
  • Cover the area with a clean bandage as needed.
For treatment of cuts:
  • Consult a healthcare professional if the cut is deep, large, or long. Some wounds need to be sutured in order to prevent unsightly scarring from developing. In other situations, suturing would do more harm than good.
  • Wash the area thoroughly with mild soap and water.
  • Use direct pressure to control bleeding.
  • Apply antibiotic ointment and bandage as needed.
  • If the wound does not stop bleeding, contact the healthcare professional.
For treatment of puncture wounds:
  • Use a forceful stream of mild soap and water to rinse out the puncture wound.
  • Apply a clean bandage.
  • Seek medical attention for this type of wound.
  • Check to make sure the individual's tetanus immunization is current
For treatment of wounds with embedded objects:
  • Avoid removing the embedded object.
  • Gently cut away any clothing from around the wound.
  • Control the bleeding using indirect pressure.
  • Immobilize the patient while getting help.
  • Check to make sure the individual's tetanus immunization is current.

Side Effects

What are the side effects of the treatments?

Antibiotics may cause allergic reactions.

After Treatment

What happens after treatment for the injury?

Most wounds are completely healed within 2 to 3 weeks. It is important to watch for signs of infection during the healing time. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare professional.

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