Cuts, Abrasions, Puncture Wounds
- Washing a cut or scrape with soap and water and keeping it clean and dry is all that is required to care for most wounds.
- Cleaning the wound with hydrogen peroxide and iodine is acceptable initially. Still, it can delay healing and should be avoided long-term.
- Apply antibiotic ointment and keep the wound covered.
- Seek medical care within 6 hours if the bleeding does not stop, as the wound might need stitches.
- A delay can increase the rate of wound infection.
- Any puncture wound through tennis shoes or sneakers has a high risk of infection and should be seen by a doctor.
- Any redness, swelling, increased pain, fever, red streaking, or pus draining from the wound may indicate an infection that requires medical care.
Signs and Symptoms of an Infection
For a cut, scrape, or post-surgical wound, it is essential to monitor it for infection signs. This includes redness, swelling, yellowish or greenish discharge, and pain, and a feeling of warmth in the area. Additional symptoms include fever, chills, body aches, and swollen lymph nodes in the groin, neck, or armpit.
- If the wound begins to drain yellow or greenish fluid (pus) or the skin around the wound becomes red, warm, swollen, or increasingly painful, a wound infection may be present, and medical care should be sought.
- Any red streaking of the skin around the wound may indicate an infection in the system that drains fluid from the tissues, called the lymph system. This infection (lymphangitis) can be severe, especially if a fever accompanies it. Prompt medical care should be sought if streaking redness from a wound is noticed.
- Dog bites account for up to 90% of all animal bites. 4.5 million dog bites occur each year in the U.S., and more than 27,000 victims require reconstructive surgery. Injuries may involve:
- Structures deep beneath the skin, including muscles, bones, nerves, and blood vessels.
- Infections, including tetanus and rabies, need to be considered for a dog bite.
- Wound cleaning decreases the risk of infections from dog bites.
- Skin repair increases the risk of infection. The decision to suture the skin balances the risk of infection versus the benefit of a better appearing scar.
Visit Doral Health & Wellness Urgent Care:
Any wound that shows a doctor should see signs of infection.
- If you cannot control the bleeding from a cut or scrape (abrasion), seek medical attention.
- Any cut beyond the top layer of skin or is deep enough to see into might need stitches (sutures) and should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible.
- Generally, the sooner the wound is sutured, the lower the risk of infection. Ideally, wounds should be repaired within six hours of the injury.
- People with suppressed immune systems (including people with diabetes, cancer patients receiving chemotherapy, people who take steroid medications, such as prednisone, patients on dialysis, or people with HIV) are more likely to develop a wound infection and should be seen by a doctor.
- People who are on blood-thinning medication and cannot control the bleeding should be seen by a doctor immediately.
Fastest Way to Heal a Wound:
The necessary steps for wound care are the fastest way to heal an open wound.
- The first step in the care of cuts, scrapes (abrasions) is to stop the bleeding. Most wounds respond to direct pressure with a clean cloth or bandage. Hold the pressure continuously for approximately 10 to 20 minutes. If this fails to stop the bleeding or if bleeding is rapid, seek medical assistance.
- Next, thoroughly clean the wound with soap and water. Remove any foreign material in the wound, such as dirt, or bits of grass, which may lead to infection. Tweezers can be used (clean them with alcohol first) to remove foreign material from the wound edges, but do not dig into the wound. This may push bacteria more in-depth into the wound or injure subcutaneously (under the skin) structures. The wound may also be gently scrubbed with a washcloth to remove dirt and debris. Hydrogen peroxide and povidone-iodine (Betadine) products may be used to clean the wound initially. Still, they may inhibit wound healing if used long-term.
- Cover the area with a bandage (such as gauze or a Band-Aid) to help prevent infection and dirt from getting in the wound. A first aid antibiotic ointment (Bacitracin, Neosporin, Polysporin) can be applied to help prevent infection and keep the wound moist.
- Continued care of the wound is also essential. Three times a day, wash the area gently with soap and water, apply an antibiotic ointment, and re-cover with a bandage. Change the dressing immediately if it gets dirty or wet.
Antibiotics and Wounds:
A puncture wound is caused by an object piercing the skin, creating a small hole. Some punctures can be very deep, depending on the source and cause.
Puncture wounds do not usually bleed much, but treatment is necessary to prevent infection. A puncture wound can cause infection because it forces bacteria and debris deep into the tissue, and the wound closes quickly, forming an ideal place for bacteria to grow.
For example, suppose a nail penetrates deep into the foot. In that case, it can hit a bone and introduce bacteria into the bone. This risk is especially significant if an object has gone through a pair of sneakers or tennis shoes. The foam in sneakers can harbor bacteria that can lead to severe infection in the tissues.
First aid for puncture wounds includes cleaning the area thoroughly with soap and water. These wounds are very difficult to cleanout. If the site is swollen, ice can be applied, and the area punctured should be elevated. Apply antibiotic ointments (Bacitracin, Polysporin, Neosporin) to prevent infection. Cover the wound with a bandage to keep out harmful bacteria and dirt. Cleanse the puncture wound, change the dressing three times a day, and monitor for infection (the same symptoms as in the cuts section). Change the bandage any time it becomes wet or dirty.
A doctor should see people with suppressed immune systems or any incredibly deep puncture wounds. If it is difficult to remove the puncturing object, it may have penetrated the bone and requires medical care.
Most puncture wounds do not become infected, but if redness, swelling, or bleeding persists, see your doctor.
Puncture wounds to the feet are a particular concern. Wear shoes to minimize the risk of a puncture wound from a nail or glass, especially if the affected person has diabetes or loss of sensation in the feet for any reason.
Additional common causes of puncture wounds include animals or human bites or splinters from wood or other plant material, which carry a high risk of infection and should be treated by a physician.
Most people in the United States have been immunized against tetanus (lockjaw). If the affected person has been vaccinated, a booster shot can be given if they do not have one within ten years. If it is a nasty wound, a booster shot can be given within five years. If the affected person has never had a tetanus shot or their series is incomplete (fewer than three shots), they might need tetanus immunoglobulin, a medication that can prevent lockjaw.