Wounds are a regular and unavoidable part of our lives. Everyone has had their share of scrapes, cuts, and bruises that, at some point, it becomes something people shrug off – after all, wounds are trivial for them. A lot of people don’t even treat wounds – some just brush off the blood and then go on with their lives as if nothing happened.
Is wound care still important? A lot of medical experts would say yes. If you’re the type of person who feels like they can’t be bothered by a small scrape in the knee, read on to find out how easy and quick it is to care for your wounds properly. We will also discuss the repercussions you may experience if you continue neglecting your wounds.
Why Do People Get Wounds?
Before we get into proper wound care, why do we get wounds anyway? Wounds are so common that people don’t question what science goes behind it – they just know it’s something that happens.
A wound happens when there is are breaks or cuts in the skin. What happens when you cut a slice of cake? Usually, you can see the layers underneath, and at times, some of the fillings come out. The same is true for human skin. When your skin gets cut, you will usually see fluids seep out. If the cut is deep, you may see blood seeping out. When it’s a shallow scrape, you usually see an almost transparent fluid leaking out instead of blood. This is serous fluid or serum, which is a fluid that usually surrounds body cavities.
Blood proteins called fibrin to work together with blood platelets to start forming a clot. If you keep your skin dry, you’ll eventually see a scab. Underneath this scab, new skin starts to grow slowly, starting from the outer portions of the wound.
The reason why people get wounds is that our skin, though very flexible, isn’t strong enough to withstand sharp or abrasive objects. However, our body has an excellent response towards wounds. This is why blood clots and forms scabs. The scabs, though unsightly, offer some protection for the new skin as it grows.
However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t observe proper wound care. Even if our body has an automatic and efficient response to wounds, it doesn’t neutralize all the repercussions.
Step-By-Step Guide in First Aid Wound Care
Most wounds are not serious, and following this step-by-step guide is usually enough to clean and dress the majority of cuts, scrapes, and bruises a person might experience during their lifetime.
- The first step to the wound care process is to clean the wound, usually by running the affected part through running water. The gentle pressure from the water not only cleans the wound from any debris or dirt but also alleviates the pain you feel. Running water does let the wound bleed out for a bit, but this is a good thing. Letting a bit of blood out means, you are cleaning out the wound.
- Make sure to remove any foreign objects on your wounds like pebbles or sharp splinters. If the object is large enough, you can use your hands. Use sanitized tweezers for the smaller objects.
- A lot of people use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol to treat wounds, thinking this would sanitize the cut. For most wounds, this is not necessary and will only cause additional pain and skin irritation.
- You can purchase antibiotics creams without a prescription, and should be a regular first aid kit at home. When applying cream to your wound, make sure to apply minimally. You just want to create a thin layer to keep the wound clean and moist.
- Should you bandage your wound? It depends on where the wound is. If you find that you keep aggravating your wound when you bump into things or if your clothes keep sticking to it, covering your wound with a bandage is a good idea.
- Your wound may feel slightly itchy as the new skin grows underneath – this is perfectly normal, and you should avoid scratching it. It tends to go away quickly. However, if the itchiness is unbearable or it doesn’t go away, it might mean that you’re allergic to either the antibiotic cream or the bandage.
- If you suffer from minor burns, immediately run cold, running water over the affected area. With burns, it’s normal to see blisters form on the skin. Don’t pop or pick at them – blisters are a vital part of the healing process.
- If your experience a deep cut, you may need to go to the doctor’s office for stitches. These need to be dressed properly, with the dressing changed daily. Before you go home, the doctor will usually instruct you on how to take care of your stitches. Make sure to follow their instructions carefully.
- Most wounds heal on their own, and you just have to be patient with the healing process. Don’t prematurely pull off bandages, or else you might reopen your wound.
The Consequences of Improper Wound Care
What happens if you leave your wound alone and don’t take proper care of it? Looking at the step-by-step guide above, some people think it might be overkill and just leave their wounds alone. After all, the skin heals on its own, right?
However, people can suffer repercussions if they don’t take care of their wounds properly. While most wounds are minor, a small percentage of wounds can lead to more serious conditions if left untreated.
Infection is the most common consequence if you don’t observe proper wound care. The skin protects the body against infection, and wounds are like gates opening up, inviting bacteria to come on in. If you don’t properly cover your wound and apply antibiotic cream to it, bacteria can enter the wound and can make you sick.
Tetanus is a rare side effect of improper wound treatment, not because it doesn’t happen often, but because most people have been vaccinated against it. If you scrape your knee and bits and pieces of gravel or debris are stuck inside your wound, you can get Tetanus if you haven’t been vaccinated before.
Also, if pieces of debris are stuck in your skin and the skin heals, you may have to live with feeling hard bumps underneath your skin. A lot of people are lucky enough not to experience anything bad out of it except for a bit of discomfort knowing there’s a foreign object underneath their skin. However, people who are unlucky find themselves prone to infection and have to get the debris out surgically.
Tissue Damage and Scarring
While this isn’t medically important, getting scabs that won’t go away is an aesthetic consequence of improper wound care and should concern people who are very particular about their looks. If you don’t clean and cover your wound, you can reopen it when you accidentally scratch it or bump it against another object. The affected area gets bigger and bigger in wounds that reopen frequently. When the wound finally heals, it’s usually this unappealing dark scab on the skin that’s rough to the touch.
To minimize scarring, wound care is important. Properly covering your wound while keeping it moist with a bit of antibiotic ointment will allow it to heal quickly without damaging the surrounding skin too much. This is especially true for burns. People have been known to pick at their blisters out of habit or annoyance, which only damages their skin further.
When To Seek Professional Help
If you follow the steps in this guide, your wound should be gone after a few days to a week, and you should feel good as new. In general, wounds don’t require a trip to the hospital. However, there are situations where seeking medical help may be a good idea.
Bleeding is to be expected when it comes to wounds, but what do you do if you’re bleeding more than usual? Excessive bleeding is usually a sign that the cut is deeper than you expected. Apply pressure to the wound to slow down the bleeding, and then seek medical help right away – you may need stitches to close the cut.
Blood Won’t Clot
Blood usually starts to clot within 2 to 8 minutes. However, if you continue to bleed after 10 minutes, you might have an underlying medical condition called Hemophilia, where your blood platelets don’t clot as they should. Hemophilia is a disorder that is potentially fatal if you do not receive the proper information on how to manage it.
Signs of Infection
Signs of infection include swelling and redness of the affected area, fever, and pus seeping through the wound. If your wound is infected, it’s best to seek medical help. They will clean your wound for you and prescribe medication to treat the infection.
Although wounds may seem like an insignificant matter, it’s important to observe proper wound care for each cut, scrape or bruise you get. The entire process shouldn’t take you more than a couple of minutes, and it’s better to take preventive measures now rather than regret it later on when you’re sitting up in bed with a fever and an infected wound.