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Alternative Names 
lacerations, cuts, open wounds

A wound is any injury resulting in the breaking of the skin. Wounds can be punctures, crush wounds or abrasions or cuts. Wounds can also be caused by burns or cold.

What are the signs and symptoms of the injury? 
Symptoms associated with wounds can include:
  • bleeding.
  • pain.
  • swelling.
  • redness.
  • heat.
What are the causes and risks of the injury? 
Many of the common causes of wounds are everyday objects. Objects include:
  • knives.
  • glass.
  • zippers.
  • splinters.
  • pieces of wood.
  • scrapes from falling.
  • punctures due to needles, pins, nails, and hooks.
Bites and objects that are stepped on can also cause wounds. Wounds that are dirty or do not receive prompt medical attention run a high risk of becoming infected.

What can be done to prevent the injury? 
Proper use of knives, scissors, firearms and breakables are important. Keep all of these objects out of the reach of children and educate them about their proper use. It is also important to prevent further disease by ensuring that children receive all appropriate childhood vaccines and boosters, such as the tetanus Injection.

How is the injury recognised? 
Wounds are easy to recognise by the break in the skin, the redness, bleeding, and the pain associated with them.

What are the treatments for the injury? 
The following is a list of treatments for different types of wounds. It is important to thoroughly wash the hands prior to giving first aid.

  • Wash the scrape thoroughly with mild soap and water.
  • Apply an over-the-counter antibiotic ointments, such as bacitracin or triple antibiotic ointment, if possible.
  • Apply a clean bandage.
  • Use clean or sterile forceps to pull out the splinter at the same angle that it went in.
  • If the splinter is just under the skin, use a sterilised needle and lift the splinter out from under the skin.
  • After removing the splinter, wash the area and bandage as necessary.
  • Wash the wound thoroughly with mild soap and water. If the wound is large, seek medical care.
  • Use direct pressure to control bleeding.
  • Bandage the wound if necessary.
  • If the wound does not stop bleeding, seek medical help for possible suturing and controlling of the bleeding.
  • Use a forceful stream of mild soap and water to rinse out the puncture wound.
  • Apply a clean bandage. It is important not to seal the wound because this will trap any bacteria or foreign debris that is inside the wound, increasing the risk of infection.
  • Seek medical attention for this type of wound.
Wounds with embedded objects:
  • Avoid removing the embedded object.
  • Gently cut away any clothing from around the wound.
  • If the object is very large and you need to move the person, remove a portion of the object outside the wound to within a few inches of the skin.
  • Control the bleeding using indirect pressure. Try to hit trigger points and pressure points to control the bleeding.
  • Immobilise the patient while getting help.
What are the side effects of the treatments? 
Infection is a side effect of any treatment if one is not careful. Bleeding is another problem that can occur. With some wounds, large veins or small arteries may be injured. These vessels do not readily stop bleeding. For wounds in which vessels are injured, immediately seek medical care.

What happens after treatment for the injury? 
Usually after treatment, the wound will be completely healed within 2 to 3 weeks. Until the wound has completely healed, care should be taken that infection does not occur. If stitches are applied, they will need to be removed in 5 to 14 days, depending on the location of the wound on the body.

Author: James Broomfield, MD
Reviewer: eknowhow Medical Review Panel
Editor: Dr John Hearne
Last Updated: 21/1/2005
Potential conflict of interest information for reviewers available on request

This website and article is not a substitute for independent professional advice. Nothing contained in this website is intended to be used as medical advice and it is not intended to be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes or as a substitute for your own health professional's advice.  All Health and any associated parties do not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information.

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