Hair Skin Care Wound Care

A wound is any break in the skin. Cuts, bruises, scrapes, and burns are all wounds that most of us have experienced at one time or another. In most cases, one needs to be concerned not with the wound itself (it still is important), but with cleaning and closing the wound as soon as possible.

Your skin serves as a barrier to the outside world. It keeps the tissues and organs in your body protected from the multitude of viruses and bacteria that would like nothing better than to get into your body. Wounds provide such an avenue of entry, and if not cleaned and closed, may result in a series of other infections and health complications.

Types of Wounds

Abrasions: Abrasions are a result of scraping the skin. Bleeding is minimal, but dirt and various other particles seem to imbed themselves into the skin. This may result in infections, which are quite common with abrasions.

Burns: Fire, the sun and chemicals can cause these wounds. The damage to the skin varies with the severity of the burn, but the site often reddens and becomes tender to the touch. Burns take a long time to heal and are subject to infections.

Incisions: Incisions are wounds caused by sharp objects. The wound causes little damage to the surrounding tissue and heals easily due to the wound being a clean cut. Incisions vary in depth and length, which are the main determinants for the amount of blood lost. Infections are not as common because incisions close quicker than other wounds and the free flow of blood washes away most bacteria and microorganisms.

Lacerations: Lacerations are jagged, irregular cuts or tears of the skin. They are neither straight like incisions nor as shallow as abrasions. Lacerations are almost always serious. Damage to the surrounding tissue is common. Bleeding is often very heavy due to the irregularity of the wound and infections occur regularly with this type of wound.

Punctures: A puncture wound is a pierce in the skin. This usually results in a small surface wound, but the severity of the wound depends on the depth of the puncture, not on the size of the hole. Bleeding is not as heavy as incisions and lacerations, but blood loss is common-usually internally. Infections are very common with punctures due to the difficulty in cleaning the wound.

Wound Care

When you or someone you know is unfortunate enough to acquire a new wound, the first thing you need to do is to determine the severity of the wound. If the wound is big and heavy bleeding is occurring, it’s probably best to seek professional help (of course you also want to try and stop the bleeding). Wounds that require professional attention include:

  • large wounds with heavy bleeding
  • deep puncture wounds (beware of tetanus)
  • wounds with muscle tissue or bone exposed
  • most lacerations
  • all burns
  • any wound that causes numbness or loss of movement.

If you think the wound is not serious enough to warrant professional assistance, then the next thing you need to do is to thoroughly clean the wound and keep it clean. Scarring and infection are very common results of improperly treated wounds.

Cleaning the Wound

First, thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water. You may get dry skin, but that beats tetanus any day of the year. After that, clean the wound site with soap and water (people with burns may want to skip the soap part). Thoroughly rinse it with water. Try not to further complicate the injury, but you want to be thorough enough that no debris or dead tissue is left at the site. Remember to clean the area around the wound too.

H-2-O-2 too?

Hydrogen peroxide can help clean the wound, but use it in addition to water, never instead of water.

Once cleaned, cover the wound with a bandage or bandage-like material. Make sure the material “breathes,” otherwise the moisture underneath the material will be trapped (creating a perfect breeding ground for bacteria). If you want to use an antibiotic ointment, go ahead. They can help heal the wound. Just don’t overuse it.

Change bandages frequently (always change the bandage if it gets wet), and if you can, let the wound breathe a little without a bandage. This will aid in the healing process. If you’re using ointment, clean the wound before reapplying the ointment.

A Little About Tetanus

Tetanus is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium, Clostridium tetani. Once infected, the body’s muscles become rigidly stiff and painful spasms wrack the body. The disease is often fatal.

Most tetanus infections occur at the site of a wound -especially puncture wounds-which is why wound care is so important. A minor puncture may look like nothing at first, but once you’re infected, you’ve got some serious issues to deal with. So remember to get your tetanus booster shots and always keep your wounds clean.