Your skin is both the largest organ you have (covering your entire body) and one of the most multifaceted. This layered organ helps your body regulate temperature, grows hair to provide warmth, keeps viruses and other outside threats from getting in, produces sweat, and allows you to touch. Sadly, it is also the part of the body most prone to external threats, including sunburn, skin cancer, acne, rosacea, and psoriasis.
It is also often injured from wounds like cuts, scrapes, bruises, and lacerations, which can either cause minor damage or lead to needing emergency care. If you suffer a laceration, knowing when to seek help can be important for your health, so to determine the best course of action let’s look at the types of wounds and find out when to use at-home treatments or when to get to a doctor.
If you live in the Little River, South Carolina area and you’re dealing with cuts that need treatment or other injuries, Dr. Rogers Walker and his experienced team at Walker Urgent & Family Care can get you the help you need.
Types of wound
An open wound can be caused by several types of damage to your skin:
- Laceration: This the term for a cut or tear in your skin, often caused by knives, machinery, and other tools. Deep lacerations can lead to rapid and extensive bleeding.
- Puncture: This is a hole in your skin caused by pointed objects, such as needles, nails, or high-velocity objects like bullets.
- Abrasion: These are scrapes against the skin that often lead to rashes and minor amounts of bleeding.
- Avulsion: This is the partial or complete tearing away of skin from your body that results from violent or body crushing accidents or explosions.
Lacerations from sharp objects are a common type of wound, leading to around 9 million emergency room visits annually. Whether you need medical attention will depend on the nature of your laceration and how deep the damage is.
When to treat at home
Managing minor lacerations at home is simple and effective if you focus on sterilizing and dressing the wound properly. The first step is disinfecting it and removing dirt and debris to prevent irritation or infection, and maintaining pressure to mitigate swelling and bleeding. The next step is dressing the wound with a wrap or bandage to keep it sterile and allow it to heal, cleaning it whenever necessary.
In many cases, you may only need minor bandaging to protect the wound as it closes. Be sure to take any over-the-counter pain relievers if you are in pain (but avoid aspirin, as it can prolong bleeding).
When to seek medical help
Even if your laceration seems minor when you first start treating at home, you’ll need medical attention if you’re having the following issues:
You have a gaping laceration
If your laceration is deep enough that you can’t close the edges together or that you can see the tissue underneath the skin, get to a doctor as soon as possible.
A foreign object is impaling your skin
If whatever caused the laceration is still embedded in your skin and can’t be safely removed without doing more harm, get professional help.
The cut is caused by contact with a dirty or rusty object
The dirt or rust from many things that can cut you may lead to infections, and if your cut still appears to be infected after cleaning, you should see a doctor.
If bleeding is heavy, lasts longer than 20 minutes, and doesn’t stop after applying direct pressure, get to a medical facility.
The cut is on a sensitive location
Cuts across joints and those near the eyes or genitalia can be especially dangerous, so even if you get the bleeding under control, seek help to make sure the damage isn’t near something vital.
Minor lacerations are often just that, but if you run into the issues listed above, we can help you. For cuts, punctures, or other wounds that need emergency care, contact Dr. Walker and Walker Urgent and Family Care as soon as possible for treatment.