The proper care and treatment for a wound as soon as it occurs is essential to ensure that it heals effectively. To help people understand how to care for a wound when they get injured, John Viscovich, DPM, MBA, FACFAS, a podiatrist with Westchester Health, offers these 9 important first aid tips.
Before handling any kind of wound or burn, WASH YOUR HANDS.
Also, wear disposable protective gloves, if possible.
After that, here are 9 tips for proper wound care to promote healing and avoid infection:
1. A little blood is good
Blood helps clean a wound, so a little bleeding is good. Most small cuts and scrapes stop bleeding pretty quickly, but you can help this process by applying firm, gentle pressure to the site with gauze or a tissue.
2. Clean wounds right away
For any cut or scrape, the first thing to do is clean the wound with cool water. Gently wash around the wound with soap and a washcloth.
3. Antibiotic cream
Antibiotic creams and ointments not only keep wounds moist but they can also reduce the risk of infection. Apply a thin layer on the wound.
4. Deciding whether to bandage
If your wound will be rubbed by clothing or shoes, cover it with a bandage. An uncovered cut or scrape is at risk of reopening or developing an infection.
5. Signs of adhesive or latex allergy
If you feel itchiness or burning under your bandage, you may have an allergy to the adhesive used in some bandages. If this is the case, try switching to sterile gauze and paper tape, or an adhesive-free dressing.
6. Healing begins almost immediately
Almost as soon as you sustain a wound injury, your body begins the healing process. White blood cells attack infection-causing bacteria. Platelets, red blood cells and fibrin create a jelly-like clot over the wound, enabling a protective scab to form.
7. Minor burns
The best treatment for a minor burn is to cool the area right away with a cold cloth or cool water to keep the skin from retaining the heat and continuing to burn. After cooling it to stop the burning process, wash the burned area with soap and water and dress it lightly. Do not pop blisters.
8. Signs of infection
If redness spreads out from your injury; if there is swelling; if green or yellow fluid is coming from the wound; or if the area around the wound is warm or tender, you may have an infection. Other signs include swollen lymph nodes at your neck, armpit or groin, as well as body aches, chills or fever. If you have any of these signs, call your doctor right away.
9. See a doctor if your wound:
- won’t stop bleeding after 5-10 minutes of pressure
- is deeper or longer than a half-inch
- is near the eye
- is gaping or ragged
- was caused by something dirty or rusty
- has dirt or gravel stuck in it
- is very painful
- shows signs of infection
- was caused by an animal or human bite
- if you aren’t sure if you’re up to date on your tetanus vaccine
First aid tools everyone should have
- hydrocortisone cream
- hand sanitizer
- sterile gloves
- pain relievers
- gauze and tape
- antiseptic wipes
- antibiotic cream
- antihistamines for allergic reactions