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Whenever you are injured, you should treat the wound as soon as possible. This is a guide to basic first aid techniques for any wounds or injuries.
Types of open wounds
An open lesion is any form of breakage or damage on the skin surface due to burns, skin tears, paper cuts, or any underlying skin diseases like psoriasis or eczema. The various types of wounds are:
Lacerations are deep cuts on your skin due to tools and machinery, a knife or blade. There may be extensive bleeding if the cut is deep.
A puncture is caused by sharp and long objects like a needle, nail, or bullet. This kind of wound doesn’t bleed too much, but it can damage internal organs. To prevent infection due to foreign objects in the skin, a tetanus injection is recommended.
When your skin scrapes or rubs accidentally on a hard or rough surface, an abrasion is formed. The bleeding in this type of wound is minimal, but it should be rinsed and cleaned properly to avoid any infection.
The complete or partial tearing of skin and/or tissues due to violent accidents like explosions, gunshots, or severe accidents is called an avulsion. These types of wounds bleed heavily and rapidly.
How to wrap a wound?
Severe injuries requiring medical attention, like wounds that involve broken bones, blood vessel injuries, and nerve damage, should immediately be attended by a doctor. However, minor or moderate open wounds can be treated by a band-aid, dressings, and medical tape.
Here’s how you can wrap a wound effectively:
First, control the bleeding using a clean absorbent cloth by applying gentle pressure to the wound. In most cases, the blood loss will stop within 20 minutes due to the pressure, and the cloth prevents infection.
When there is heavy blood loss, one makes a tourniquet using a cloth and ties it just above the wound.
- Use medical gloves if you come in contact with the wound. If the gloves are not available, use layers of clean cloth or plastic bags.
- Use soap to wash your hands before treating the wound to minimize the infection.
- If there is considerable bleeding even after 20 minutes of applying pressure, then immediately consult a doctor.
Remove visible dirt.
Use tweezers to remove visible glass, dirt, or any other object in the wound. The tweezers you use should be rinsed properly with rubbing alcohol to prevent the transfer of microbes and bacteria.
- Do not push the tweezers inside the lesion as it may make things worse.
- If the injury is due to a bullet, don’t try to pull it out; instead, seek medical help.
- If the debris is too large and entangled in the blood vessels, do not remove it as it may bring out more blood.
Remove clothing from the wound.
Remove clothing or jewelry from the injured area to get better access. This ensures that blood flow is not affected by tight jewelry or clothing if the wounded area swells. For example, remove your wristwatch if your hand is wounded or remove pants if the injury is on the thighs.
- You may use a tourniquet above the wound if the bleeding is heavy but use it for a shorter duration because if the tissues do not get blood for a few hours, they would die.
Rinse the wound.
Use lukewarm or cool water for a few minutes mixed with saline solution to rinse your wound so that it becomes free from debris and dirt. If you don’t have a saline solution, use clean tap water or drinking water or, if possible, run your wound under the tap.
- You can buy a saline solution commercially.
- You can also use mild soap to rinse your wound, but do not use it if it irritates your skin.
- If the wound is near the eye, do not use soap as it will irritate your eye.
Clean the wound.
Clean the injury using a hygienic cloth with gentle pressure after rinsing it with saline solution. Do not scrub it too firmly but be sure that the dirt is eradicated. Also, reapply pressure to stop the blood loss after cleaning the wound as there will be bleeding during the cleaning process.
- You can apply natural sanitizers like hydrogen peroxide, iodine solution, or colloidal silver to the wound.
- Alternatively, you may use antiseptic creams like Polysporin or Neosporin to treat the injury before bandaging it. It will prevent infections, and the dressing will also not stick to the wound.
Choose a suitable bandage.
If the lesion is small, use a self-adhesive bandage like band-aid, but if the injury is deep and large, then you have to dress it.
For the dressing, cut the bandage so that it covers the bruise completely. Also, do not touch the sides of the dressing, which is towards the wound.
- If you don’t have a self-adhesive bandage or dressing, you can cover the wound with any clean cloth.
- To hold the edges of the bruise firmly, use a butterfly bandage.
Cover the dressing.
Use waterproof and non-stretch medical tape along the sides of the dressing to make it firmer. Afterward, use a stretchy bandage or elastic wrap for additional protection of the wound. Ensure not to wrap the wound too tightly as it will hinder the blood circulation.
- To protect the lesion from getting wet, you can use a layer of plastic between the wrap and the dressing.
- The outer wrap can be supported using safety pins, metal clips, or tape
Change the dressing daily
Change the dressing daily as it will boost healing and keep the wounds clean. However, anytime your dressing gets wet, don’t wait for the next day and change it immediately.
If the dressing gets cemented to the scab, then soften it by soaking it in warm water and then remove the dressing.
- Most minor or moderate injuries will heal within a few days or weeks, but it will take approx a month to heal completely if a wound is deep.
- Few symptoms of healing are reduced swelling and inflammation, less pain, and the development of scabs.
Look for infections.
Sometimes injury may get infected especially if it is caused by something rusty or by insects and animals bites.
Signs of infection include:
- The flow of greenish or yellow pus.
- Increased pain and swelling.
- Redness on the skin surface.
- Feeling of illness and/or high fever.
If you notice these signs after a few days of injury, immediately see a doctor who will give treatments and antibiotics to fight the infection. For prevention of infections, you can also take a tetanus shot within 24 hours of injury.
Covered or Uncovered – Which wound will heal faster
If you leave the cut uncovered, scabs are formed, obstructing the formation of new tissues and hindering the healing process. If the wounds are covered, it gets warmth and little moisture, thus, it protects the formation of scabs and heals faster than the uncovered ones. It also gives the wound protection and helps to prevent infection.
However, while dressing, if you see that the wound is too wet due to water from rain or from a shower, let the cut dry and then apply a new dressing.
Types of dressings
Choosing the proper dressing for the wound is essential as the right one will provide you with the best results. Some of the important types of dressings are:
Telfa dressing or non-adherent wet dressings are recommended for the wound which has light or moderate drainage. It works best with burn injuries.
It keeps the wound moist, which assists the injury to stimulate cell migration.
Hydrogel dressings are ideal for wounds which are dehydrated or dry. It propagates cell growth and breaks down the dead or dry tissues.
Hydrocolloid dressings last longer than any other type of dressings and can be easily molded on body parts which have lots of movement.
The disadvantage of hydrocolloid dressings is that the wound is not visible properly to check for infections.
These types of dressings are used for all kinds of wounds. They are 100% cotton that absorbs blood and other discharges from the lesion.
Also, it is very economical, simple, easy to find, and one can make wet dressings with the help of gauze sponges.
These types of dressings are not good in absorbing injury discharge, but it is very effective in keeping external moisture from coming in. It acts as a securement layer for the wounds, and also visualization of injury is easier.
Types of Bandages
Bandages have various versatile functions, and they are usually made up of paper or cloth. Though there are many types of bandages, the few essential ones are:
Tubular bandages are usually used on body parts with lots of motion, like the knee or elbow. They are also used in the areas where gauze can’t be used, such as toes or fingers.
Elastic roller bandages are used for sprains or strains to give support and are wrapped around wounds many times.
Cotton roller bandages are used as a dressing to wrap gauze. They are available commercially in different sizes and applied to the wound with pins, tapes, or clips.
Triangular bandages are generally made up of disposable paper or cotton. It is used for various purposes like giving support to broken bones, reducing swelling of the injured part of the body, and applying pressure to the injury to control bleeding.
Forms of bandages
The various types of bandages discussed above can have multiple forms. The primary three forms of applications are:
This bandage form usually grips dressing on body parts like the chest, legs, and abdomen. The triangular bandage and gauze roller bandage types are folded to form a cravat in this form of bandage.
In circular bandaging, layers of bandages are formed by unrolling it either laterally or towards you. After three or four turns, it covers the wound and you can put a clip or tape to hold it.
This form of bandaging is usually used to cover the wounds that occur on the body’s blunt parts like toes, limbs, or fingers.
The bandage is repeatedly applied from one side to the other side over the blunt-body part. To fix the recurrent turns, the entire affected blunt-body part is covered by spiral or circular arcs.
This bandage form is usually used for body parts which are cylindrical in shapes like the legs and arms. Elastic bandage is typically used in spiral bandaging as it fits closely with an increase in body part diameter.
Each spiral turn usually covers 1/3rd width of the bandage of the preceding turn.
Life is full of ambiguity, and nobody knows when someone will suffer from an injury, especially during adventurous activities like camping, rock climbing, sports, etc. Here we have given a primary first aid treatment for a wound which will surely help you during emergencies.