Skin injuries can be as minor as a simple scrape or as major as 3rd degree burn.
The quicker you treat an injury, the faster the healing process occurs.
Signs, Symptoms & Causes
- Cuts - Cuts slice the skin open causing bleeding and pain.
- Scrapes - Scrapes are less serious than cuts, but more painful because more sensitive nerve endings are involved.
- Punctures - Punctures are stab wounds. They can be shallow ones, such as from a splinter or deep ones, such as from stepping on a nail. Puncture wounds hurt and bleed.
- Bruises - Bruises are caused by broken blood vessels that bleed into the tissue under the skin. Common causes are falls or being hit by some force. A bruise causes black and blue or red skin. As it heals, the skin turns yellowish-green. Pain or tenderness and possible swelling also occur.
- Burns- Burns can be caused from dry heat (fire), moist heat (steam, hot liquids), electricity, chemicals, and the sun (sunburn).
- 1st degree burn - skin is red, swollen, and painful. Usually heals in 1-2 days.
- 2nd degree burn - skin will be painful, swollen, red, blistered, and /or weepy/watery because the outer and lower skin layers are affected.
- 3rd degree burn - skin will be black, white, and charred. You will have less pain because the nerves have been destroyed.
For Minor Cuts and Scrapes
- Clean the wound thoroughly with soap and water.
- Apply pressure and elevate the wound above the heart to stop the bleeding.
- Apply antibiotic ointment (e.g. Bacitracin) and cover with bandage.
For Punctures that Cause Minor Bleeding
- Let the wound bleed to cleanse itself.
- Remove the object that caused the puncture with a clean tweezers.
- Soak the wound in warm, soapy water, dry area well and apply an antibiotic ointment (e.g. Bacitracin) 2- 4 times a day for several days.
- Apply a cold pack as soon as possible and keep it on for 15-20 minutes. Take it off for 20-30 minutes. Repeat several times for 24-48 hours.
- Apply warm compresses for 20 minutes at a time two days after injury if needed.
For First-Degree Burns
- Immerse in cold (not ice) water until pain subsides.
- Keep area uncovered and elevated, if possible. Apply a dry dressing, if needed, to protect from dirt or further injury. Don't use grease, butter or oil. You may apply aloe vera or burn cream 3-4 times a day.
- If blisters occur, do not break them. If they break on their own, apply antibiotic ointment (e.g. Bacitracin) 2-4 times a day for several days.
Note: You will need a tetanus shot if you have not had one within 5 years (for a major wound) or if you have not had one in the last 10 years (for a minor wound).
Notify or seek medical attention if
- Severe bleeding that continues after pressure has been applied for 10 minutes.
- A cut or puncture that is deep and/or longer than an inch and is located on an area of the body that bends (e.g. elbow, knee, or finger).
- Wounds edges are gapping open.
- Bruises appear often and easily; take longer than 2 weeks to go away.
- A burn (2nd degree) covers a large area or is on the face, hands, feet, genitals, or any joint.
- You receive a 3rd degree burn (charred black and white skin and exposure of tissue under the skin).
- Infection develops.
Signs & Symptoms of Infection
- Redness or red streaks that extend from the wound site.
- Swelling or tenderness at and around the wound site.
- Increased pain
- General ill feeling
If an infection is suspected, you may need a throat culture and/or blood work done. If Streptococcus or another type of bacteria is present, you will be prescribed an antibiotic. Be sure you take the entire antibiotic, even if you are feeling better, to avoid complications to the heart.