They are lesions that are exposed due to broken skin.
Knowing how to identify an open wound is essential to avoiding infection. It is necessary always to follow your doctor’s instructions to care for and treat open injuries.
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 a wound and should consult a doctor.
People taking anticoagulant medications who cannot control bleeding should see a doctor immediately.
A doctor should see any wound showing signs of infection.
Types of open wounds
There are four types of open wounds:
Most refer to abrasions as scrapes or 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 due to 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.
Severe lacerations require immediate medical attention and may require stitches. You can treat minor tears 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. 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 tiny 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, including regular dressing changes, pain relievers, or antibiotics.
Before running to get a bandage, take a few minutes to clean the wound carefully. You’ll thank yourself later, as this not only makes healing more accessible it can also prevent infections and other complications.
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 damage, 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 severe, especially if 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.
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, gauze, or a soft cloth. Avoid getting soap on the wound and avoid using hydrogen peroxide or iodine, as they can irritate damaged skin.
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.
Use a clean cloth to pat the skin dry gently. 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 and 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.