A wound is a physical injury to the body that bypasses the protective function of the skin and risks contamination and infection to the site of the trauma. When the skin is broken, a wound is exposed to additional hazards. The tissues may be invaded by foreign material such as bacteria, dirt, and fragments of clothing, which may cause serious complications such as infections.
A minor wound may heal on its own with minimum first aid and may not require a visit to the hospital. However, there are a variety of wounds that are classified as non-healing, which include some cuts, scrapes, scratches, and punctures. A wound can be caused by accidents, injuries, illnesses, or other conditions. A wound can be an independent injury, or may be the result of broken bones, damaged nerves, punctured arteries, and more. Furthermore, some wounds that appear minor may develop into an infection. If there is a reason to suspect serious injury or infection, the wound and injuries will need to be properly treated to avoid further complications.
The following are some examples of various causes of wounds:
The most common symptoms of a wound are pain, swelling, and bleeding. The amount of pain, swelling, and bleeding of a wound depends upon the location of the injury and the mechanism of the injury.
Although many wounds can be treated at home, contact a doctor if you notice:
Wounds can heal through the influence of medical aid (such as disinfecting or suturing a wound), or can be left to repair naturally, whereby damaged tissue is restored by the formation of connective tissue and re-growth of the epithelium. If the wound is unable to properly heal on its own (the wound is not minor), or if there are other causes for concern such as injuries or infection, you should seek professional medical attention.
Your doctor will evaluate the wound and ensure that there are no further complications that may change how the wound is treated, including other injuries or signs of infection.
After cleaning and possibly numbing the area, your doctor may close the wound using skin glue, sutures, or stitches. You may receive a tetanus shot if you have a puncture wound. Treating the wound is the primary intention, and is done so directly.
Depending on the location of your wound and the potential for infection, your doctor may need to avoid closing the wound to let it heal naturally. Treating the wound becomes the secondary intention. The primary intention may be to prevent infection, maintain proper bodily function, or to avoid other serious health risks. This process may require you to pack your wound with gauze. Although the healing may not look pretty, it prevents infection and the formation of abscesses.
If a body part is severed, it should be brought to the hospital for possible reattachment. Wrap the body part in moist gauze and pack it in ice.
If not treated early, the wound can cause an infection that can lead to amputation of the infected limb.
Your doctor can determine the appropriate therapies for you based on an evaluation of the wound and an examination of other underlying causes that may be of concern.