First Aid for Scrapes, Cuts and Wounds

We can hardly get past a summer without suffering a few battle scars. Bike riding, slips around the pool and those pesky rose thorns all create wounds for us to deal with, heal up, and hopefully avoid infection or other complications. Below are some frequently asked questions regarding wound care and what you need to do to heal well and cruise through the summer!

What are some common types of wounds and examples?

  • Abrasions – scraping away of the first few layers of skin (skinned knee)
  • Contusions – an area of bleeding under the skin caused by blunt impact to the skin (bruise)
  • Lacerations  – a penetrating wound that opens up one or more layers of skin, tissue, or muscle (cut with glass)
  • Puncture – a penetrating wound caused by a small sharp object that drives down into several layers of the skin (step on a nail)

What level of care do we need for these wounds?

Minor scrapes and cuts where bleeding is minimal can usually be treated at home. The use of direct pressure on the wound with a gauze will stop almost all bleeding. Be sure to clean the area well with soap and water. Apply an antibiotic ointment, and then dress the wound with some telfa (nonstick dressing) and gauze or a bandage. Puncture wounds run a very high risk of infection because bacteria can be driven down in the wound. Being hurt this way also makes us prone to tetanus, so being up to date on your tetanus shot is important.

Wounds that are gaping open and actively bleeding need evaluation and treatment at a physician’s office or urgent care setting. If the bleeding is uncontrolled, or if there are large areas of skin or tissue injured or missing, transport to the emergency room is the best option.

What are some signs of infection?

Despite our best efforts, sometimes wounds contaminated with dirt and germs become infected. Common signs of infection include:

  • Increased redness around the wound
  • Increased soreness
  • Green or yellow mucous type drainage from wound
  • Fever
  • Reddened streaks traveling up an extremity from a wound

What is the normal time frame for wounds to heal?

Most superficial wounds will heal within a week, with total healing taking as much as two weeks. If the wound requires suturing, sutures generally remain in place for 7-10 days, and less time if on the face. Bruises will go through an entire array of colors as they heal, from black to brown to yellow to green. The total time frame of that healing depends on the amount of blood under the skin. As a general rule, there should be noticeable progression of healing over time.

Who is at high risk of poor healing?

People who suffer from diabetes or peripheral artery disease struggle to heal from any type of wound. The time frame for healing under these conditions is more than double to those who do not have those issues. It is imperative that these wounds be kept clean, well dressed, and must be constantly monitored for the progression of healing or infection. Any wound that has showed no signs of healing after one week should be evaluated by a physician.

Diane SimonDiane Simon, RN, CEN, is the Trauma Coordinator/Registrar for ProMedica Defiance Regional Hospital.