Cuts and Scrapes
Cuts and scrapes are among the most common reasons for emergency room visits, while not all lacerations will require stitches it is best to have a medical professional evaluate and treat the wound and determine if a tetanus booster shot is required.
Types of Wounds
Abrasions A superficial wound to the skin, where only the epidermis is damaged, there is little to no bleeding and this is easily controlled.
Avulsion The most serious type of cut and scrape wound, in these cases a portion of the skin and soft tissue is partially or completely torn away, these wounds cause significant bleeding. The more severe avulsions could result in amputation of a body part such as a finger.
Lacerations Skin cuts usually caused by sharp objects, these require good wound care to prevent infection.
Punctures These wounds are narrower and deeper than abrasions and lacerations and are caused by sharp pointed objects.
When to Rush to the Emergency Room
Some wounds are more severe than others, in many cases when the cut or abrasion is superficial, a trip to the emergency room won’t be necessary, just make sure you thoroughly clean the area with soap and water and apply an antibacterial ointment to prevent infection.
However, if the injury is more serious it is recommended that a medical professional examine the wound and determine the best course of treatment. These more serious cuts include:
- Cuts that are deeper than a quarter of an inch and longer than three quarters.
- Wounds that go down into the muscles, fat or where the bone is visible.
- Cuts that over a joint, as these will open with the movement and may require stitches.
- Injuries where bleeding continues after applying pressure for 15 minutes.
- When the wound is on the face, eyes, or lips where scar tissue may affect may affect the appearance and function of the body part.
- Any wound where all the layers of the skin have been severed resulting in a complete or partial amputation.
- Puncture wounds caused by animal bites, as these are more likely to get infected.
- Cuts that are deep enough to cause damage to nerves, tendons, or joints.
- Wounds that were caused by objects that may contain bacteria.
- Cuts and scrapes that have dirt and other debris that are difficult to clean.
Treatment depends on the severity of the wound:
- Minor cuts can be closed with staples or skin adhesive.
- Deeper cuts may require stitches, self-dissolving stitches will be used to close the wound internally and regular stitches will be used in the exterior of the wound, in this case, a follow-up visit to the ER within the next 5-10 days is required to remove the stitches
- Patients could be prescribed antibiotics to treat any potential infections.
- Topical antibacterial ointments will be prescribed to be applied directly to the injury.
- Tetanus or rabies shots may be required.