This section deals with small cuts and scrapes on the arms, hands, legs, and feet. Injuries to the head or torso may cause more significant underlying injuries that are not readily apparent on initial exam and therefore should be evaluated by a trained medical professional if any possibility of further injury presents.
- Stop bleeding with directed pressure and elevation. Use pressure directed over the wound site using a sterile dressing, a clean cloth or last resort, you clean hand. If possible, elevate the wound above the level of the heart. Hold a light to medium pressure for at least 5 minutes and do not lift the hand during this time to check to see if the bleeding has stopped as this may delay getting the bleeding to slow or stop.
- Clean the wound with clean water and a mild soap only. Do not aggressively rub the wound, but instead start by running large amounts of water over the wound, then lightly and carefully clean with mild soap and water. Aggressive cleaning may start the bleeding again. If so, repeat step 1.
- Avoid using hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, or iodine on the wound site. All of these agents, while good at killing germs, also kill healthy skin cells and delay healing of the wound.
- Apply a thin layer of antibiotic ointment or cream over the wound site. Use a sterile cotton swab if available instead of your finger. If you must use your finger, be certain to clean it with soap and water before and after applying.
- Bandage the wound. Use a sterile dressing or adhesive bandage with a sterile pad and cover the entire wound site. Change the dressing every day for the first 4 days and reapply antibiotic topical cream or ointment each time. After 4 days, you may leave the bandage off and continue to monitor the site for infection.
Signs and Symptoms of Healing and Infection
A small amount of redness and slight swelling around the edges of the wound on days 1 & 2 does not mean the wound is infected. Some slight redness and mild swelling can be a normal part of the damage/healing process
Normal healing takes place in a number of stages. The initial wound will have redness at the wound site with some mild swelling and redness around the edges. As the healing process takes place from 3-8 days (depending on the size and site of the wound) the redness and swelling will disappear if the wound is healing correctly.
Infection In A Wound
Infection is not commonly noticed the first 2-3 days after a wound, but more commonly after day 2 or 3 when the healing is not progressing.
Wound site infection is more common when:
- it’s caused by a bite from an animal or human
- it’s the result of a puncture from glass, nails or another external object
- the wound isn’t cleaned within eight hours
- it occurs in an area with high bacteria levels, such as the hand, foot, armpit or groin
- the wound heals slowly
- the affected area contains saliva or dirt
- the patient has diabetes, alcoholism or a weak immune system
The signs and symptoms of infected wounds include:
- foul-smelling wound drainage
- yellow or yellow-green fluid drains from the wound
- changes in the size or color of the wound
- red streaks surrounding the wound
- pain, redness or swelling around the affected area