CUTS, SCRAPES, AND WOUNDS
Your skin is your body’s first and natural defense. Anything that damages or breaks that outer protective layer is considered a wound, whether it's a minor cut, abrasion, puncture, or laceration. If a cut or wound concerns you, visit your local Falls Avenue Immediate Care neighborhood medical center and seek professional care.
Is The Cut Serious?
Sometimes it can be difficult to figure out if a cut needs stitches or other medical treatment.
To help you decide if a cut may need a medical evaluation, here are some signs and symptoms to look for:
The wound is deep enough to expose the dermis (the layer of skin beneath the outermost layer of skin)
The wound is too large to easily press the edges together, which could be the result of a laceration or puncture
It’s from a bite (animal or human)
The cut is contaminated or was caused by a rusty object
Lacerations, Cuts, and Wounds – What's The Difference?
Lacerations and cuts are generally regarded as similar wounds, with lacerations indicating slightly more severe damage to the skin because it’s typically a ragged tear or caused by a sharp object.
A puncture occurs when a foreign object breaks through the surface of your skin and creates a small hole or incision. The wound's severity depends on how deep it is. Common punctures are from splinters, nails, pins, or knives.
If the wound, however, doesn't go much deeper than the epidermis, it may be just an abrasion. Those entail wounds that cause surface layer damage to the skin, and only sometimes draw blood.
All in all, any damage to your skin – whether on the surface level or several layers deep – is considered a wound.
What To Do: Seeking Medical Care For a Cut
If you do seek medical care for your cut, here are some important reminders to help ensure proper healing:
Do not remove any object, such as a nail, that is stuck in the wound.
Clean the wound, if possible, with some water and diluted liquid soap. Contrary to popular thought, hydrogen peroxide is not good for cleaning wounds, since it can damage the tissue.
Apply pressure to the cut and try to elevate it. This will help slow the bleeding.
It May Be Time For Stitches
Depending on the severity of a cut, stitches or staples may be required to stop the bleeding and help the healing process. After cleansing and exploring the wound, your FAIC medical team may numb the area and apply stitches by carefully threading sutures from one end of the wound to the other. If appropriate, FAIC may also use Dermabond – a tissue adhesive – to fuse the edges of the wound together. Depending on the nature of the wound and the patient's vaccination status, a tetanus vaccination may be necessary.
For the healing process to continue, it's recommended that patients with stitches, staples, or Dermabond consider the following:
Keep the wound dry for 24 to 48 hours after stitches or staples have been placed
After that short window, cool water and mild soap can be used to gently wash the area, though rubbing or washing the stitches or staples themselves is not advised
Pat dry with a clean towel, being careful not to rub the area
Apply fresh bandages and ointment if instructed to do so by your provider
Antibiotics may be prescribed, in some cases, to prevent infection