How do I Care for a Skin Wound?
The first step in caring for any skin wound is to determine the severity of the injury. Wounds that are deep, bleed excessively or occur due to trauma, such as a fall or car accident, require professional evaluation. Once you determine the wound is minor, such as a small cut or scrape, applying first-aid and appropriate care will promote healing and keep the wound from becoming infected.
Stop the bleeding by holding a clean towel over the wound and applying pressure with your hand. Change the towel if it becomes soaked. Wounds that do not stop bleeding will require medical attention.
Wash the wound out with cool water. If possible, go to the nearest sink and place the injured area under running water. For injuries on the feet or lower extremities, place the victim in a bath tub and use a cup of clean water to rinse the wound.
Wipe the area with a clean washcloth and mild soap. This will clean away any dried blood and remove debris. Check the wound to ensure no debris is trapped inside the skin break. Rinse tweezers with rubbing alcohol and pick out any loose particles from the open area if necessary.
Apply an antibiotic ointment to the wound. Use a cotton swab or clean finger to cover the wound with the ointment.
Secure a bandage over the wound. A wound does not need covering to heal. In some cases, the air promotes drying and improves healing. Most wounds occur in areas at risk for further injury or that come in contact with fabric. You should cover these wounds to keep them clean. Apply a gauze bandage over large wounds and a plastic adhesive bandage over small areas.
Change the bandage daily and evaluate the wound for signs of infection. Any wound that produces discharge, becomes surrounded by red streaks, swells or does not heal will require medical attention. Reapply ointment as needed and secure a clean bandage.
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