Learning how to use first aid on wounds is a necessary life skill. Unfortunately, none of us seem to be capable of making it through life without sustaining a wound at some point. Learning basic first aid is a skill worth keeping and passing on to others. While our skin is great at protecting our bodies from many foreign invaders, it's also easily damaged and requires first aid for wounds from time to time. We are going to focus on first aid for open wounds in this article. Any injury where the surface of the skin has been broken qualifies as an open wound. While more serious wounds require medical treatment, many can be cared for with a little knowledge of first aid and some basic supplies.
Some items needed for first aid on wounds are:
- Gauze bandages
- Rolled gauze
- Butterfly closures
- Basic splints
- In the case of a laceration with bleeding, you must control blood loss by applying direct pressure with a clean bandage to the wound until bleeding is under control. It's important to get bleeding under control and prevent further contamination by covering wounds with a clean bandage. Most of the time, direct pressure for ten to fifteen minutes will stop bleeding from most minor wounds.
- Cleaning open wounds is extremely important to prevent infection and promote healing. Basic abrasions should be washed with soap and water to remove all visible debris, covered with an antibiotic ointment and bandaged appropriately to allow the wound to heal while minimizing the risk of infection. Small abrasions and lacerations can often be covered with a Band-Aid or small adhesive bandage. Larger abrasions or cuts may require gauze compresses or rolled gauze and medical tape to keep the bandage secured in place.
- If a wound continues bleeding through a bandage, maintain pressure and apply a second bandage on top of the original bandage–do not remove the first bandage. While it may be tempting to remove a bloody bandage to replace it with a fresh one, it will prolong bleeding and should be avoided. Initial treatment isn't the time to worry about whether or not the bandage looks good. It just needs to perform the function of controlling bleeding.
- Splinting an injured extremity often will help to control bleeding even if you don't believe there are any fractures. A splint can also be useful for limiting movement and reducing pain.
- If you receive a minor burn, it's okay to initially immerse it with clean, sterile water to stop the burning. You don't want to keep the burn immersed because that can lead to infection. Once the burning has stopped, cover the burn with a clean, dry sterile dressing.
- Small lacerations can be closed using butterfly closures available from a drug store. Small lacerations should be cleaned and treated with antibiotic ointment and can be closed with butterfly closures if the laceration is minor. Place the adhesive side on the skin on one side of the laceration and close the laceration by stretching the butterfly closure entirely across the laceration. It's a good idea to cover the entire area with a clean bandage until your skin has formed a scab over the wound.
Tips & Warnings:
- Basic cuts, abrasions and burns can be easily treated with a simple first aid kit and some knowledge of basic first aid.
- It's important to remember that deep puncture wounds should always be evaluated by a medical professional and it's important to keep your tetanus shot up to date.
- Burns that blister, burn through the skin or cover large areas should always be treated by a doctor because the risk for infection is serious.
Now that you have learned how to use first aid on wounds, you will be able to take care of most minor mishaps at home.