Most minor wounds can be treated in the home without the need for further medical attention. First aid treatment can promote recovery and prevent infection. However, further medical advice should be sought if: there is a foreign body embedded in the wound; the wound shows signs of infection; the wound has the potential for tetanus and the injured person’s immunisation is not up-to-date; the wound is from a human or animal bite.
First Aid for treating minor wounds
If possible, wash your hands before treating the wound. Check that there is nothing in the wound. If the wound is dirty, clean it under running water. Pat dry with clean, non-fluffy material. Clean the wound from the centre out with gauze swabs or antiseptic wipes, using a fresh piece for each wipe. Cover the wound with an adhesive dressing to apply pressure and protect from infection. Elevate the wound if necessary to help control bleeding.
- Check there is nothing embedded in the wound and clean and dry it.
- Clean the wound with antiseptic wipes or swabs, then cover it with a dressing for protection and to apply pressure.
- Raise the wound if necessary to reduce blood flow to the affected area.
If there is gravel or grit in the world
If there is loose debris on the wound this can be easily washed away with water or taken off by gently dabbing with clean gauze. lf there are small bits of debris embedded into the wound these should be treated as foreign bodies. Gently cover with a clean dressing and bandage the dressing into place, taking care not to press on the embedded debris. Raise the injured part if appropriate and seek medical advice.
A bruise is the sign of an internal bleed. Usually caused by direct impact, bruises are sometimes painful but generally heal swiftly with little intervention needed.
A bruise goes through several changes in appearance as it heals and may not appear for some time, even days, after the accident. Initially, the injured part may be red from the impact; over time this may become blue as blood seeps into the injured tissue; as it heals it becomes brown and then fades to yellow.
Severe bruising can also be the sign of serious internal bleeding. If bruising is extensive and is accompanied by any of the following signs and symptoms assume that a serious internal bleed is present. Treat the injured person for shock and seek medical help.
Signs and symptoms of internal bleeding
- Casualty is known to have had an accident (not necessarily in the immediate past)
- Signs and symptoms of shock
- Boarding – this most commonly occurs where there is bleeding into the stomach area; the quantity of blood combined wirh the tissues swelling results in a rigidity to the tissues
- Bleeding from body orifices
Most bruises, however, are not serious. First aid can reduce pain and promote recovery from an uncomfortable bruise.
Treatment of minor bruising
- Check for underlying injuries such as broken bones or sprains.
- Apply a cold compress to the site of the bruise to reduce swelling.
- Raise and support the injured part as appropriate.