Cuts and Puncture Wounds
A cut is an opening or a tear in the skin caused by an external injury. It is also called as a laceration. It can occur only on the superficial layers of the skin or deep into the skin even involving muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones.
A puncture wound is a deep wound made by some sharp and pointed object such as a nail. The opening on the skin may be small and there will be lesser bleeding compared to a cut. The puncture wounds are more prone to getting infected by various micro organisms. A puncture wound should always be examined by a physician and a puncture caused by a bite or due to stepping on a sharp and rusty piece of metal or nail needs immediate medical attention.
A cut can lead to external or internal bleeding. If it isn’t treated immediately a major cut can cause profuse bleeding. If the cuts and puncture wounds cause excessive blood loss or damage to internal organs, it can be fatal.
The most common causes of cuts causing internal and external bleeding include:
- Broken glass
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Razor cuts
The common causes for puncture wounds are:
- Stepping on sharp objects such as nails
- Falling on a sharp object
- Getting bitten
- Getting pricked by thorns on a plant
When does a cut or puncture wound need medical attention?
Most of the minor cuts and puncture wounds heal by themselves without any treatment. They just need simple first aid and home care. While medical attention is needed in the following conditions:
- If the bleeding is profuse and does not stop even after 10 minutes of pressure
- If muscles and bones are exposed
- If the functioning or feeling at the site of wound is impaired
- If it is caused due to a bite
- If some debris is embedded in the wound or cut
- If you have stepped on any rusted iron sharp piece
- If there is swelling, pain or fluid leakage at the site of cut or puncture wound
The following complications may occur if the cuts or wounds are not treated promptly:
- Infection of the blood (sepsis)
- Infection at the site of wound
- Gangrene at the site of wound (death of cells)
- Loss of sensation or functioning of the surrounding area of the wound
- Nerve damage
- Organ damage
- Amputation may be required in advanced cases
First Aid for Cuts and Puncture Wounds:
Cuts and puncture wounds that are minor can be treated with first aid at home. For deep cuts or puncture wounds, prompt medical attention is necessary.
First the bleeding should be stopped by covering the cut or puncture wound and applying gentle pressure. If the bleeding from the cut occurs heavily and does not stop with first aid, medical attention is required.
After the bleeding stops, the cut or puncture wound should be cleaned with an alcohol wipe, clean water or an antiseptic solution. Use a cotton swab dipped in hydrogen peroxide to clean the cut or puncture wound. To clean the debris from the surface of the cut or puncture wound, tweezers can be used. If the debris embedded in the cut or puncture wound is not easy to remove with the help of tweezers, then do not attempt to remove it and seek medical attention.
Apply an antibiotic cream after cleaning the cut or puncture wound. This helps in preventing infection and speeds healing of the wound. Then a bandage can be applied on the site of cut or puncture wound and it should be changed daily or when it becomes dirty or wet. Oral antibiotics may also be taken to prevent infection.
Deep cuts require medical attention. The treatment options for deeper cuts and punctures include staples, stitches or liquid stitches. The physician may suggest taking a tetanus injection to prevent infection.
The following steps should be followed to ensure physical safety and prevent cuts or puncture wounds.
- Do not play any outdoor game without wearing proper protective gear
- Play in debris-free areas
- Wear shoes with sturdy soles which cannot get punctured by a nail
- Do not use or work with heavy machinery without using protective gear and equipment
- Quickly clear the debris after an incident like breaking of glass to prevent stamping on broken glass
- Clean up or dry any liquid spills on the flooring before walking on it
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