Open Wounds: When to go to the Doctor? Types of Wounds, Signs and Symptoms of an Infection and Steps for a Correct Cleaning

They are lesions that are exposed due to broken skin.

Knowing how to identify an open wound is important to avoid infection. It is important to always follow your doctor’s instructions for the care and treatment of open wounds .

Who should seek medical attention for an injury?

If you cannot control bleeding from a cut or scratch (abrasion), seek medical attention.

Any cut that goes beyond the top layer of skin or that is deep enough to see into may need stitches (sutures), and should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible. In general, the earlier the wound is sutured, the lower the risk of infection.

Ideally, wounds should be repaired within six hours of injury.

People with suppressed immune systems (including people with diabetes, cancer patients receiving chemotherapy, people taking steroid medications such as prednisone , dialysis patients, or people with HIV) are more likely to develop an infection in wound and should consult a doctor.

People taking anticoagulant medications and cannot control bleeding should see a doctor immediately.

Any wound showing signs of infection should be seen by a doctor.

Types of open wounds

There are four types of open wounds:


Most of us refer to abrasions as scrapes, which are open wounds caused by the skin rubbing against a hard or rough surface. Abrasions are superficial wounds that often do not bleed.

Clean the wound by rinsing it with water and then rinsing it with a sterile solution to rid the affected area of ​​bacteria and debris. Many times these open wounds will crust over like a natural bandage. While tempting, avoid picking up the scab as it can delay healing.


Avulsions occur when the skin tears to reveal the tissue underneath. They usually occur as a consequence of violent car accidents or gunshots and lead to extensive bleeding.

Avulsions require immediate medical attention for proper treatment. While you wait for professional help, you can apply direct pressure to the injured area to try to stop the bleeding.


Also known as cuts, lacerations are deep tears in the skin. Sharp objects, such as knives, are often the cause of this open wound. If the laceration is deep, bleeding is likely to occur.

Serious lacerations require immediate medical attention and may require stitches. You can treat minor lacerations by washing and disinfecting the wound, then applying pressure and a sterile bandage. If there is bruising or swelling, apply ice to the injured area.

It is important to remember that only a doctor can determine the severity of a laceration and it is always best to seek medical help when you are unsure how to proceed.


When a sharp, pointed object comes into contact with the skin, the result is usually a small hole, known as a puncture wound. They don’t always bleed, which increases the risk of infection.

Seek medical assistance for proper treatment advice to avoid infection.

Your doctor can examine the wound and recommend the appropriate treatment plan, which may include regular dressing changes, pain relievers, or antibiotics.

Before running to get a bandage, take a few minutes to carefully clean the wound. You’ll thank yourself later, as this not only makes healing easier, it can also prevent infections and other complications.

Always remember that your doctor knows the best, so be sure to check with your doctor for proper guidelines and care if you have any questions about wound care.

What are the signs and symptoms of a wound infection?

If the wound begins to drain yellow or greenish fluid (pus), or if the skin around the wound becomes red, hot, swollen, or increasingly painful; there may be an infection in the wound and medical attention should be sought.

Any red streaks on the skin around the wound may indicate an infection in the system that drains fluid from the tissues, called the lymphatic system.

This infection (lymphangitis) can be serious, especially if it is accompanied by a fever. Immediate medical attention should be sought if redness from a wound is noted.

Steps for proper wound cleaning


Never touch wounds without washing and drying your hands well. Unwashed hands can carry germs, bacteria, and dirt that could cause infection. Double the security by wearing disposable gloves if you have them.

Stop bleeding

When cuts or scrapes cannot stop the bleeding on their own, apply gentle pressure with a clean bandage or cloth and lift the wound until it stops. Skip this step for burn wounds or injuries that are not bleeding.

Rinse the wound

Run clean water over the wound to loosen the skin and remove the initial layers of debris. The UK National Health Service recommended rinsing for approximately five to 10 minutes.

If you have a burn, refrain from using ice water and keep it at a cool temperature.

Wash around the wound

Clean surrounding skin with mild soap, gentle scrubbing, or gauze or a soft cloth. Avoid getting soap on the wound and avoid using hydrogen peroxide or iodine, as they can irritate damaged skin.

Remove debris

Clean a pair of forceps with rubbing alcohol and then use them to remove any dirt and debris still on the wound bed. If you can’t remove everything, see your doctor for help.

Dry gently

Use a clean cloth to gently pat the skin dry. Do not use a cotton ball or swab, as pieces of the material can get stuck inside the wound.

Bring the antibiotics

Antibiotic ointments and creams help broken skin maintain a healthy hydration balance, as well as prevent infection.

This step is not always necessary depending on the severity or type of injury, so follow your doctor’s advice for your specific treatment.

Cover the wound

Now fresh and clean, the wound is ready for a sterile dressing to keep it protected from the outside world. However, minor cuts and scratches can often be left uncovered.

Proper wound cleaning requires the right supplies, especially for more serious injuries that require frequent dressing changes.