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ABRASIONS AND SCRAPES

This type of wound is not very deep but sometimes covers a large surface area and is often associated with a contusion.

In most cases it is caused by a fall or friction with a wall or the ground. This is the most common injury for children.

The wound must always be cleaned and disinfected, even in the case of slight abrasions or small scrapes.

Therefore:

  • Gently clean the wound with a soft sterile non-fabric gauze (because cotton leaves filaments in the wound), soaked in a specific disinfectant for DAMAGED SKIN.
  • Clean from the inside to the outside of the wound to remove any remaining traces of dirt or material.
  • Apply a healing cream.
  • Cover the wound with the right dressing.

For more extensive or bleeding abrasions, you should use a high absorption, protective, medicated dressings with a non-adhesive layer that comes in contact with the wound. Otherwise, you can use a sterile gauze compress that you then secure to the skin with a spool plaster or an elastic tubular mesh.


CUTS

These wounds are generally long and thin and their depth can vary based on the sharp object's impact with the skin.

The edge of the wound may be clean if the cut was made by a smooth blade (e.g. razor blade) or jagged if made with a serrated blade (e.g. knife).

The length and depth of wound being equal, the damage to the skin is less severe and heals quicker if the edges are clean. If the wound is jagged, there is more damage to the skin and the healing time is longer. Pain is generally proportionate to the length and depth of the cut. The dressing to use in these cases depends on the amount of bleeding. If the wound is deep and/or extensive, go to the emergency room.

If not:

Clean and disinfect the wound with antiseptic. Make sure the disinfectant penetrates and reaches the inside of the cut. Close the edges of the wound and apply a medicated bandage. If the skin is going to get wet (e.g., in the bath or shower, etc.), use a medicated bandage that is water-resistant.

For deeper cuts that are not infected or exuding, use a "suture bandage". Suture bandages let you close the wound. They can replaces stitches or staples.

Look at this series of drawings on how to properly apply wound closure strips.

  • Fig. 1 Apply the first half of the bandage lengthwise over the cut to suture
  • Fig. 2 Gently push the edges together, taking care they do not overlap.
  • Fig. 3 Apply the second half of the bandage.
  • Fig. 4 Complete the suture by adding more strips so that the ends of the bandages are close to one another.

PUNCTURE WOUNDS

Puncture wounds generally involve a small surface area of the skin.

The entry hole is usually small with a wedge-shaped incision. Do not be fooled by the outside appearance: these wounds must be carefully assessed and treated even when the surface damage looks slight. The amount of bleeding can vary based on the amount of damage and the punctured area. However there is always less bleeding than with cuts.

Some of the objects that can cause puncture wounds are needles, punches, screwdrivers, branches and sharp sticks. These objects could have pathogen bacteria on them and that's why it is so important to carefully disinfect the area and monitor it for several hours after the accident. Always remove the fragments of the object that caused the wound (splinters, glass etc.) before medicating and bandaging it. Foreign objects in the wound can cause infection and delay healing.

The process is the same as the one for cuts. Clean and disinfect the wound with antiseptic. Make sure the disinfectant penetrates and reaches the inside of the cut. Close the edges of the wound and apply a medicated dressing. If the skin is going to get wet (e.g., in the bath or shower, etc.), use a medicated dressing that is water-resistant. For deeper cuts that are not infected or exuding, use a "suture bandage". Suture bandages let you close the wound. They can replaces stitches or staples.


BURNS

The most common burns are caused by heat. Burns caused by cold or corrosive substances are rare, especially in the home. They are usually small and often caused by contact with hot tools. The worst burns are caused by contact with boiling liquids (water, foods).

Burns are at a high risk for infection and there is a high rate of scarring. To limit tissue damage, remove the source of heat as soon as possible and run cold water over the burn. If there is no running water, apply cold wet packs. Never apply oil or greasy substances to burnt skin because, besides not being sterile, they encourage bacteria so they can cause or worsen infections. Never apply ice directly to the burn because it could cause freeze it. If you use ice, you should wrap it inside a soft cloth or, better yet, sterile gauze and apply it to the skin for brief intervals.

Call a doctor in the following situations:

  • Third degree burns.
  • Second degree burns larger than the palm of the burn victim's hand.

Superficial burns that are not extensive but occur on the face, neck, head, hands, feet or groin.

Burns on a person over 60.

Burns on a child under 5.

Burns on diabetics.

Burns on immune-depressed persons.

Certain precautions must be taken when treating a burn.

Never touch blisters from burns because they are the skin's natural protection. If you accidently break a blister, carefully clean it. Remove dead skin and disinfect and bandage the area with the right products (see scrapes and abrasions).

Use a colourless disinfectant so the wound's healing process can be assessed. Apply a compress with disinfectant solution and change it several times a day for at least 2-3 days.

Use the same type of bandage you would for a scrape.

To protect the wound from water and bacteria, use medicated and sterile waterproof dressings.


SURGICAL WOUNDS

Surgical wounds are created during a medical operation when the doctor cuts the skin and then sutures it. It is considered a "clean" wound, unlike the previously mentioned ones. We assume that the wound, which is usually closed with stitches, is clean and with negligible bacterial contamination but the wound must be kept clean to prevent infection and to protect the suture from contact with clothing or dirt.

Therefore:

  • Unless told otherwise by a doctor, regularly disinfect the wound with a specific antiseptic.
  • Apply a high-absorption, medicated, sterile dressing.
  • Change the dressing when necessary (e.g. when dirty, soaked or no longer adhesive).
  • If the skin must be wet (e.g. to take a shower), use suitable waterproof dressings

ANIMAL BITES

You may have to treat animal bites (from dogs or cats as well as horses, rodents, etc). Always contact the doctor for extensive or multiple wounds but you can take the following steps in the case of small bites:

Clean and disinfect the wound with antiseptic. Make sure the disinfectant penetrates and reaches the inside of the bite marks. Close the edges of the wound and apply a high-absorption dressing. For deeper bites, use a suture bandage. Suture bandages let you close the wound. They can replace stitches or staples in less severe cases. However, always go to the emergency room to get the right vaccinations and have a veterinarian check the animal's health.

In case of reptile bites (snakes, etc), always GO TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM IMMEDIATELY.


INSECT BITES

Insect bites are often annoying but do not cause serious problems. Aside from cases of IgE mediated reaction or anaphylactic shock due to individual allergy, the only risk - besides bothersome itching and swelling - is the risk of infection in the area of the bite. After an insect bite, we recommend:

Inspecting the skin and extracting any stingers or other foreign objects.

Disinfecting with antiseptic for damaged skin.

Applying an analgesic or antiseptic gel, if necessary.

Protecting the area with a quality dressing.