A bleeding site is scary. Sometimes you may witness someone fall and get hurt. The question is, are you prepared to help the person, or is it easier to duck away and pretend nothing has happened? Whichever way you take, there are consequences. To bridge the health gap, we shall learn about open wounds and cuts, common causes, first aid, when to seek medical attention, the importance of tetanus vaccination in wound care, and how to prevent open wounds and cuts in daily life.
Types of open wounds
Abrasions-. Injuries due to forceful grinding on a hard and rough surface. Mostly occur on knees and elbows after a fall. The braised area may have the skin peeled off, jaggy, and has slight bleeding. The wound is small and heals on its own.
Lacerations. Injuries resulting from sharp objects tearing into the skin, inner tissues, and muscles. Sharp objects like knives, razors or broken pieces of glass are common causes of lacerations. These cuts transcend through the layers of skin to underlying muscles and may cause damage to the blood vessels, leading to heavy bleeding. Lagged lacerations most often occur from blunt objects.
Puncture. These are injuries caused by long pointed objects like nails, needles, and bullets. These types of injuries are deep, cutting across several layers of the skin, and are narrow. Although puncture wounds may not bleed much, they are more susceptible to infections and damage to internal organs.
Avulsion. Injuries when massive body parts are forcefully lipped off, and the underlying muscle tissues, blood vessels, and nerves are exposed. The injuries are common following road traffic accidents, explosions, and gunshots when forceful pressure tears off cartilages, bones, tendons, outer skins, and fatty inner tissues.
Care of open wounds and cuts
- Wash hands with soap and water to prevent infecting the wound with microorganisms.
- Apply direct pressure on the wound with clean cloth or a bandage to stop the bleeding. Hold for 15 to 20 minutes to allow blood to clot.
- If the cloth or bandage get soaked with blood, do not remove it but add extra cloths or bandage over the blood-soaked cloth.
- Periodically, check to see if bleeding has subsided. If the bleeding is still persistent, continue exerting external pressure.
- Clean the wound with clean water to remove any remnant object, dirt, or other foreign bodies. If debris is stuck, use a clean cloth to wipe and dislodge.
- Cover the wound with a clean cloth. Change the dressing daily. Minor wounds or cuts heal within a short duration.
- Subsequently, watch for signs of wound infection such as fever, chills, and general body weakness. Watch the wound site for redness on skin edges, warmth, swelling, or oozing pus.
- For large and deep wounds, seeks medical care after first aid promptly.
When cuts require medical attention
- A cut or a wound that does not stop bleeding after applying external pressure for 15 to 20 minutes requires further consultation. It might indicate a very severe injury or the individual has an underlying medical condition that affects blood clotting.
- A deep cut on head, face, chest, or abdomen. Such injuries tend to bleed more. Furthermore, a wound in the chest can compromise breathing, or in case of abdominal trauma, cause internal bleeding.
- When the open wound has bones protruding above the skin, has torn tendons and muscle tissues, immediate medical attention for surgical toilet (wound cleaning) and reduction of protruding bones is required.
- Wounds and cuts near joints. These are high-intensity areas and are likely to cause disability by compromising joint movements.
- An injury that is close to or involves the eye. Severe injuries to the eye can cause a permanent loss of vision.
Vaccination against Tetanus
- Tetanus is a bacterial infection found in soil, dust, and animal waste. A person gets infected with tetanus bacteria through breakage in the skin integrity by cuts, wounds, and bruises. Deep puncture wounds caused by dirty and rusty objects have a high risk of causing tetanus. The first indication that you may have tetanus infection occurs after 10 to 14 days when the toxic bacteria affects the brain leading to uncontrolled and painful muscle contractions and spasms of the jaw bone known as lockjaw. Other symptoms may include sudden contraction of abdominal muscles, muscle stiffness, difficulty swallowing, fever, and headache.
- Even with good treatment, tetanus still has a high death rate. When the muscle spasms affect the airways, breathing is compromised, requiring emergency intervention, which may not be readily available. Inadequate breathing, poor oxygen to vital organs like the brain leads to death.
- Tetanus is preventable through vaccination. Children should get complete immunizations according to the schedule. In case of an accident, always go for tetanus vaccination, especially when there is a deep wound or a cut caused by dirty and contaminated objects.
Complications of open wounds and cuts
- Cellulitis. Bacterial infection of an open wound affecting the deep layers of the skin. It starts suddenly, is very painful, and can affect a particular area of the body. Sometimes, cellulitis can be generalized to the whole body.
- Sepsis-A severe complication of an open wound. Results from over response of the immune system to fight infection leading to generalized inflammation. Sepsis is life-threatening and can cause multiple organ failures. Septic shock is the worst form of sepsis.
- Osteomyelitis. Wounds and cuts can cause inflammation and infection of bones when microorganisms enter the bone tissues. Open wounds are the most common cause of osteomyelitis.
- Gangrene. Death of body tissues following a traumatic injury as a result of poor oxygenation. Gangrene often affect the extremities, arms, finger, toes, though it can affect any other part of the body that has deprived off blood flow.
- Tetanus. Bacterial infection by clostridium tetani when an open woundis soiled, dirty, and contaminated with animal wastes.
Prevention of open wounds and cuts
- Always wear protective equipment whenever working outdoors. Wear protective gear, like gloves, gumboots, helmets, and googles.
- Always choose the right tool for the job. A wrong tool requires extra hard work and increases the risk of injuries.
- Have a proper system to store sharp objects in the kitchen, work station, and tool shed and store sharp tools separately and in locked drawers whenever possible.
- To prevent wounds and cuts in the kitchen, use knives for intended purposes only. Assign a particular knife its activity and avoid multiple purposes. Have a place designed for storing knives, and ensure that every family member is aware.
- Maintain sharp tools in good working order. Ensure that knives and other cutting items are in good working conditions. Dull cutting tools require extra efforts to operate and increase the risks of injury in the process.
- When working with sharp tools, never put them in the pocket. Many injuries occur when an unsuspecting person handles clothes that have a sharp object inside.