Most minor injuries, such as cuts and scrapes, can be easily treated at home. However, if you get a more serious wound or infection, seek medical attention to make sure the wound will heal properly.
Method 1 of 2: Treating Minor Wounds at Home
Step 1. Apply pressure to the injured area to stop the bleeding
Wash your hands and use a clean bandage or cloth to apply firm pressure to the wound. Washing your hands will prevent the spread of bacteria from your hands to the wound. Pressing on the wound will inhibit bleeding and increase the speed of blood clotting.
If you have an injury to your hand, leg, or foot, the bleeding can be slowed by placing the limb higher than your heart. You can raise your arm or hand as usual. If you hurt your leg, lie down and use a pillow or other object to lift the injured area
Step 2. Clean the wound
Wash the wound with clean water to clean the wound from dust and other small particles that can cause infection. Clean the skin around the wound with soap and a clean cloth. Use a cloth to dry the wound and the surrounding area with gentle patting motions.
- If the wound cannot be cleaned with running water, you may need to use a small clamp. Wash and sterilize tongs with alcohol before use. Use the tweezers carefully to pick up any debris stuck to the wound. If you can't take them all, go to the emergency room and ask a doctor for help.
- If there is an object stuck in the wound, don't take it out. Go to the doctor so that the object can be removed without making the wound worse.
- Do not clean the wound with cotton which may even stick to the wound. The use of cotton will increase the chance of infection and complicate the healing process.
Step 3. Prevent infection with topical antibiotics
After the bleeding stops and the wound is cleaned, apply an antibiotic cream to protect the wound from infection. You can buy antibiotic creams and ointments such as Neosporin or Polysporin at your local drugstore. Use the ointment for a day or two.
- Read and follow the instructions on the packaging. If you are pregnant, nursing, or caring for a child, ask your doctor before using any medication.
- Do not use a disinfectant antiseptic such as alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. Both substances can injure skin tissue and slow down the healing process.
Step 4. Cover the wound with a bandage
This will prevent bacteria and dust from entering the wound. Depending on the location of the wound, you can use a plaster bandage. If the wound is large enough or is located near a joint, wrap a bandage around the wound so it doesn't come off.
- Don't wrap the bandage too tightly, leaving enough room for blood to circulate.
- Change the bandage daily to prevent infection. Wet or soiled bandages should be changed immediately.
- Use a waterproof or plastic bandage to keep the bandage dry when showering.
Step 5. Observe the wound to make sure no infection has occurred
If you see signs of infection, go to the emergency department. Here are signs of infection to watch for:
- Increased pain
- Pus flowing from the wound
Method 2 of 2: Getting Medical Help
Step 1. Go to the emergency room if you are seriously injured
If you have recently been seriously injured, do not try to drive a car. Ask someone to drive you or call emergency medical help. You will need professional medical care for wounds that bleed profusely or are potentially disabling if they don't heal properly. The following is a list of injuries that require professional medical assistance:
- Cut artery. If the wound bleeds bright red and oozes every time your heart beats, call for emergency medical help. This condition requires immediate medical attention before you lose too much blood.
- Bleeding that doesn't stop after a few minutes of pressure. This condition can occur if you have a deep incision, have a blood disorder, or are taking medications that inhibit blood clotting.
- An injury that causes you to be unable to feel or move a limb. This condition can be caused by a deep injury to the bone or tendon.
- Wounds with objects in them. Glass, splinters, or stones are objects that are often found in this type of wound. The doctor must remove the object to avoid infection.
- Long jagged wounds do not heal easily. If the wound is more than 5 inches long, it may need stitches.
- Wounds on the face. Facial wounds require expert care so they don't leave scars.
- Wounds that have a high risk of infection. This includes wounds contaminated by faeces, body fluids (including animal saliva or human bites), or soil.
Step 2. Seek medical care
The doctor will provide treatment based on whether the wound is infected or not. Uninfected wounds will be cleaned and closed. Closing the wound immediately will prevent scarring. There are several techniques that doctors use to close wounds:
- stitches. Wounds longer than about 6 centimeters can be sutured using sterile thread. Stitches in small incisions can be removed by a doctor after five to seven days. Doctors can also use threads that will stick to the skin after a few weeks. Never remove your own stitches to avoid additional cuts or infection around the wound.
- Tissue adhesive glue. This substance is used to glue both sides of the wound and will close the wound when it dries. The glue will come off on its own after about a week.
- Butterfly stitch. Butterfly stitch is not a stitch, but a small adhesive to close the wound. The doctor will remove the adhesive once the wound has healed. Don't try to do the removal process yourself.
Step 3. Let the doctor treat the infected wound
Infected wounds will be treated by a doctor before closing. Closing the wound before treating the infection will trap the infection under the skin and may cause the infection to spread. The following are treatments that can be given by a doctor:
- Wiping the infection so that the pathogen can be recognized and studied. This stage can help determine what type of treatment is needed.
- Clean and fill the wound with a dressing so it doesn't close.
- Give antibiotics to clear the infection.
- Ask you to come back after a few days so the doctor can assess whether the infection has completely cleared up. If so, the wound will be closed.
Step 4. Purchase the tetanus vaccine
Your doctor may ask you to get a tetanus vaccine for wounds that are deep or have dust in them, also if you haven't had a tetanus vaccine for the past five years.
- Tetanus is a bacterial infection. Tetanus can also be referred to as mouth spasms because it can cause contractions of the chin and neck muscles. This condition can cause respiratory distress and potentially kill the patient.
- There is no cure for tetanus, so the best preventive measure is to continue to take the vaccine.
Step 5. Go to a wound care center if you have a wound that won't heal
A wound that does not heal is a wound that does not begin to heal after two weeks or does not heal within six weeks. Injuries that are difficult to heal generally include bedsores, surgical wounds, radiation wounds, and wounds caused by diabetes, lack of blood circulation, or leg swelling, which usually occurs in the feet. The following are the types of services available at the wound care center:
- Nurses, doctors and physical therapists will teach you how to clean wounds properly and practice to keep blood flowing.
- Special therapy to remove dead tissue. Methods used include excision of the infected area, cleaning using whirlpools or injections, the use of chemicals to dissolve dead tissue, and using wet-to-dry dressings which dry out the wound and absorb dead tissue.
- Specific procedures to speed healing include: the use of ''compression stockings'' to improve blood flow, ultrasound to stimulate healing, artificial skin to protect the wound during healing, and ''negative pressure'' therapy to suck fluid from the wound. You may also be given a booster to speed healing or undergo hyperbaric oxygen therapy to increase the amount of blood flowing to the damaged tissue.