• Hardayal Singh, MD

First Things to Do When Sustaining an Open Injury

The knowledge of First Aid is essential for every individual regardless of whether an emergency affects you directly or involves the people around you.

The goal of First Aid, particularly in an open injury, is to preserve the affected part and prevent infection and worsening of any underlying medical conditions, and promote healing.


Most open wounds are minor and can be treated at home (however, consulting a physician is wise). Falls, lacerations with sharp objects, animal attacks, gunshot wounds, etc., are the most common causes of severe open wounds and for which you should seek immediate medical care.


If the wound is:

  • Greater than ½ inch

  • Excessively bleeding even after applying pressure

  • Embedded with foreign materials

  • Secondary to rustic materials

  • Due to a dog bite or any other animal attack

  • If there is a loss or amputation of a digit or toes or any other part,

Then get immediate medical attention and if there is a delay in your care, help yourself by following these steps:


What You Should Do

  • First, (if it is not bleeding too much,) wash the open area in a running tap water

  • Disinfect the wound with a disinfectant

  • Apply pressure on the wound with a clean bandage to stop the bleeding

  • Elevate the affected area above your chest level to control or minimize bleeding

  • Use sterile dressing and change the dressing regularly to avoid infection.

  • If you have an amputated finger or toe - Pick up the amputated part, wrap it in a cloth, put this in a plastic bag, and then place it on an ice pack to carry it to the emergency room.

  • If you have a contaminated deep open wound or an animal bite and it is more than 5 years since the last tetanus vaccination, then get them updated with a new or booster tetanus shot.

  • Sanitize your hands with hot water and soap and wear gloves when tending to wounds to prevent infection.

  • Rush to the nearest emergency room regardless of the steps mentioned above to avoid further complications or at least to have peace of mind


What You Should NOT Do?

  • Do not tend to your or others' wounds with dirty hands.

  • If the wound contains foreign materials such as glass pieces, bullets, stones, wood, or even dead tissue, do not try to pull them out on your own, since they may be deeply embedded catching a tissue or blood vessel, which could lead to more damage and blood loss.

  • For pain - Do not consume pain medications such as aspirin because it can cause bleeding.

  • Do not apply hydrogen peroxide to the open wound as it can delay the healing and harm your skin tissues.

  • Do not leave your wound uncovered

  • Avoid picking the scabs

  • For amputated fingers or toes - Do not let the ice come directly in contact with the amputated part as it will cause ice burns.

  • Do not wash the amputated part as there is a danger you could lose elements. The emergency room physicians will clean them.


Takeaway

It is always important to take quick actions related to open wounds, whether they are severe or not. To reduce the risk of potential complications like infection or gangrene, it is always essential to get medical attention. Look out for signs like high fever, fluid or pus drainage, increased blood drainage, foul odor, and slow or non-healing wounds after an open injury. If you note any of these signs, then contact your primary care physician or a wound care specialist to reduce further difficulties.

Carolina Regional Orthopaedics

Carolina Regional Orthopaedics provides the most effective, modern, and innovative techniques in both Orthopedic Surgery and Pain Management using proven methodologies in both the surgical and non-surgical treatment of all conditions affecting the spine, upper extremities, and lower extremities. We specialize in hand and wrist surgery, joint replacements, sports medicine, trauma care, pediatric orthopedics, pain management, wound care, regenerative medicine, physical therapy, imaging services, and EMG testing.

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