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:

  • Crush Injuries
  • Decubitus (Pressure) Ulcers
  • Diabetic and Neuropathic Ulcers
  • Failed Flaps and Grafts. If a skin graft does not heal properly a wound might occur due to poor blood or oxygen flow.
  • Ischemic/arterial insufficiency ulcers commonly occur in the nail bed as a result of ingrown toenail removal or aggressive trimming.
  • Necrotizing Infections
  • Non-Healing Surgical Wounds Surgical wounds can occasionally fail to heal properly and might result in a wound that reopens.
  • Osteoradionecrosis (ORN) Complication of radiation therapy which is diagnosed after the end of radiation treatment. This can mean months or years. Often involves the bones in the temple, mandible, or cartilage of the larynx.
  • Post-Radiation Soft Tissue Damage Soft tissue injury caused by radiation therapy, sometimes years after the treatment. Damaged tissue worsens and causes open wounds to appear.
  • Venous Stasis Ulcers


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:

  • your wound is deeper than 1/2 inch
  • bleeding doesn’t stop with direct pressure
  • bleeding lasts longer than 20 minutes
  • bleeding is the result of a serious accident

Potential Treatments

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.

Disclaimer: The Relief Institute has made reasonable efforts to present accurate information on this website; however, it is possible that information found on this website could potentially be out-of-date or limited in nature. Any medical and health-related information presented on this website is general in nature. The Relief Institute does not furnish or render professional health care services or medical care. Therefore, the information presented on this website is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, nor is it intended to provide you with a specific diagnosis or treatment for a specific ailment. The information is made available to you for educational and informational purposes and does not constitute the practice of medicine and/or as a substitute for consultation with your personal health care provider. Click here to view our full disclaimer.