Wounds come in many forms. They include cuts, scrapes, punctures or any other form of injury where the surface of the skin is compromised. Most non-penetrating wounds that involve the skin heal over time, but any time a skin surface is breeched, there’s the risk of infection and scarring. That’s why it’s important to take steps to reduce the risk of infection and speed up healing.
Superficial skin wounds can come from many sources such as burning a hand on the stove while cooking dinner, cutting a finger while slicing vegetables or skinning a knee. A skinned knee is a type of wound called an abrasion where a layer of skin is torn away. Cuts and lacerations are another type of wound that can be accidental, like injuring yourself with scissors or a knife or as a result of a surgical procedure. Stepping on broken glass or other sharp object that penetrates the skin is an example of a puncture wound, another common type of injury. These are some of the most frequent wound types people experience in everyday life.
It’s important to properly care for a wound to prevent infection and scarring. Immediately after a wound occurs, rinse it well with warm water to remove any dirt or debris. Use soap and water to clean the area around the wound, but avoid getting it into the wound itself since it can cause irritation. Inspect the wound carefully. If it’s a cut or laceration that’s deep or gaping open, it may need to be sutured, so see a doctor immediately. It’s important to completely remove any remaining debris from the wound before covering it with gauze.
When the wound is free of debris, apply a layer of an anti-microbial cream to prevent infection. It reduces the risk of infection that can lead to scarring.
Once the wound is clean and dressed, check with your doctor to make sure you’re up-to-date on your tetanus vaccine, especially if it’s a puncture wound. If it’s a facial wound, don’t try to treat it yourself, see a doctor.
Now that you’ve cleaned and dressed the wound, it’s important to clean it daily using a 50/50 solution of hydrogen peroxide and water. Apply a layer of antimicrobial, and reapply the dressing. Wounds heal best if they’re kept moist and covered and are more likely to scar if you leave them open. Always watch closely for signs of wound infection such as redness, warmth, drainage or swelling. If you see any of these signs, call a doctor.
Wound infections are common, so it pays to be prepared with a first aid kit to treat them. The kit should include gauze to cover the area and an antimicrobial cream. You never know when you’ll need it.