People are often far too complacent about open wounds. They think, “oh, it’s just a small lesion – absolutely nothing to get worried about”, only to find said lesion infected the next day.
The moral of the story is this: when you experience such a cheeky little injury, no matter how small, you need to act fast, to prevent the spread of bacteria and save yourself from further complications.
Here are the steps:
Treating the injury
- Thoroughly wash your hands with clean water and soap before dealing with the injury.
- If possible, use disposable gloves when dealing with the injury and not your bare hands.
- Remove any clothing or jewellery from the affected area.
- Use a mild solution, clean gauze and sterile tweezers to clean the open injury.
- Immediately clean the injury with a mild antiseptic solution to clean any pathogens or bacteria that can cause further infection.
- Flush the interior and injury surface as gently as possible using a diluted or mild soap or saline solution (small salt that has been diluted in water) or running tap water or bottled water if available.
- Use a clean gauze piece to wipe the surface (this is a thin transparent piece of linen-cotton fabric).
- Check the wound for any dirt or debris (wood pieces, glass shards etc.) that could be stuck inside the injury before removing them with sterile tweezers if you can.
- Avoid using antiseptic solutions or disinfectants like concentrated hydrogen peroxide and rubbing alcohol to clean the open lesion as they are likely to damage tissue as opposed to helping the healing process.
- Apply pressure to prevent further anaemia and stop the bleeding as this can quicken the healing process.
- Cover the injury with absorbent materials like waterproof bandages, a clean, dry cloth or sterile gauze pads.
- Maintain pressure on the injury for one to five minutes, ensuring you see a doctor if the bleeding continues after this time.
- Apply a thin layer of antibiotic cream to prevent any further infection from occurring.
Covering the injury
- Scrapes and tiny cuts can be left uncovered, however, moisture is usually required to hasten the healing process, so gauze and waterproof bandages work well on minor wounds.
- Deep open injuries may require staples or stitches. Injuries that continue to be left open periodically can form a crust of the surface layer and stop the growth of new tissue and blood vessels, inhibiting the healing process and encouraging new scar formation. Furthermore, dry air can cause tissue cell death if the tissue is not yet covered in skin.
- Keep large open injuries moist and covered to hasten the healing process as this allows rapid growth of new skin tissue.
Use advanced wound dressing including hydrogels and films to keep the injury moist and further quicken the healing process.
- If you are sensitive to gauze pads and adhesive, you should use paper tape to cover the injury.
- However, if you have bites, a punctured or unclean injury, it is a good idea to keep the injury open.
Review the injury every 24 hours to ensure that the problem isn’t deteriorating. If for some reason the injury is deteriorating, don’t hesitate to visit your doctor, as this may be a sign that the injury is infected and requires further medical assistance.
Experiencing an open lesion is a nuisance, but leaving it to become infected is ghastly. This is why medical professionals always recommend immediately going to work on healing the injury, so as not to cause yourself any trouble in the long run…