The aim of first aid. Small wounds, bruises, blisters and finger injuries.
Wounds comprise of injuries that break or remove the skin (such as cuts and abrasions). Most small wounds can be treated successfully at home. The aim of first aid is to promote healing and to minimise the risk of infection.
Large wounds or severe bleeding need immediate medical attention as blood loss can lead to falling blood pressure and shock.
Get help immediately if:
- The wound is large or deep and bleeding cannot be controlled after 10 minutes of applying pressure
- The person has lost of lot blood, is drowsy or pale
- There is numbness or weakness in the limb beyond the wound
- There is something stuck in the wound
- The person cannot move his fingers or toes
- Stitches are required
- The wound is on the face or neck
- Most minor wounds stop bleeding on their own. If bleeding continues, apply pressure to the wound with a clean bandage.
- Wash the skin around the wound with soap and water. Hold the wound under running water to remove dirt. Pat the wound dry with sterile gauze and apply an antiseptic ointment.
- In the case of cuts, close the wound with sterile adhesive wound closure strips. If strips are not available, cover the wound with clean gauze and adhesive tape or a bandage. Don’t use cotton wool. Adhesive non-adherent bandages can be used for abrasions that continue to ooze blood.
- Change the dressings at least once a day and watch for infection – remember that an infection will only be obvious after a day or two.
- For deeper cuts or severe bleeding, apply direct pressure onto the wound with a clean towel or gauze and follow first aid for severe bleeding.
- If there is a foreign object in the wound, don’t attempt to remove it. Apply pressure around the wound. Build padding around the object to the same height as the object and secure it with a bandage.
See a doctor if:
- There are signs of infection (such as extensive redness and swelling, a general sick feeling, pus from the wound or a temperature above 37.7°C).
- The wound has been contaminated with dirt or gravel and the injured person hasn’t had a recent tetanus injection.
- The wound hasn’t healed after two weeks. (Minor facial wounds usually take three to five days to heal, wounds on the chest and arms should take between five and nine days, and on the leg wounds, seven to twelve days)
- When stitches are required.
- If a wound doesn’t close easily, the wound is deep (more than 0.6cm), gaping or jagged-edged, you may need stitches to promote healing, prevent infection and minimise scarring. Stitches are often necessary for small children as they tend to remove dressings, or if the cut is on the face or hands or joints. Stitching should be done within eight hours.
Reviewed by Dr Elmin Steyn
Mediclinc and ER24