When our skin is cut, scraped or punctured it immediately begins to heal. However, with animal bites, cuts that bleed excessively and cuts that are deeper than a quarter inch, it’s important to visit your doctor or, if it’s really bad, the emergency room.
This being said, many wounds can be easily treated at home using things like ActivHeal wound care, as well as by following a few rules to ensure complete healing and prevent infection.
But first, let’s take a look at the body’s natural healing process, so that you know what to expect with a minor wound:
Step 1: A scab begins to form after blood clotting.
Step 2: White blood cells begin to stave off infection while repairing any broken blood vessels and damaged tissue.
Step 3: Red blood cells produce collagen to create a base for new tissue to form in the wound.
Step 4: New skin begins to form over the new tissue - the wound gets smaller as the edges pull inward.
Step 5: A scar then forms, strengthening the wounded area.
How to treat a minor wound
To ensure this natural healing process runs smoothly, the first thing you should do is cleans the wound.
Do the following to promote healing:
* Immediately irrigate the wound with water. Hold the wound under a tap and wash the area with a gentle soap. Pat the wounded area dry.
* Small scrapes and cuts can be left uncovered, but they usually require some moisture to hasten the healing process.
* Apply the wound with petroleum jelly like Vaseline before covering with an adhesive bandage any wounds that might become dirty on the legs, arms, hands and feet. A gauze pad secured with paper tape can be a good substitute for people who are sensitive to adhesives.
* Continue to clean the wound daily with water and soap, and apply a new bandage and petroleum jelly.
* Apply SPF 30 sunscreen after the wound has healed to control scarring.
Avoid the following with your wounds
The two key things to avoid doing to your wound are:
Applying topical antibiotic: studies indicate that petroleum jelly is as effective as an antibiotic ointment for wounds that have not become infected.
Don’t put antiseptics like hydrogen peroxide or iodine on a minor wound. They can actually delay the healing process.
Most minor abrasions will heal up in a few days. However, some wounds are at a higher risk of infection and may require a topical antibiotic. If you don’t know if your wound is infected, you may need to seek medical assistance.
When to see your doctor
There are occasions when it is immediately a good idea to visit your doctor. These include:
* Animal bites.
* Cuts or pictures from a dirty or rusty object, as these may require a tetanus shot.
* Wounds that are deeper than a quarter inch or those that don’t stop bleeding even after keeping direct pressure on the injury for over a few minutes.
* Wounds with far apart or jagged edges that can’t be easily brought together and may require skin glue or stitches.
* Wounds that may require special cosmetic attention.
* When the wound is displaying signs of serious infection, including painful to touch, warm or red colouration, surrounding red streaks or draining pus.
Your wound should be cleansed daily with water and gentle soap, and afterwards applied with petroleum jelly. You can then cover it with a bandage to hasten the healing process.