Some accidents are inevitable and so are the injuries that result from them. If you happen to be involved in one and you end up with a cut, then make sure to read this article until the last part.
Now, let’s talk about cuts.
Cuts or wounds come in different forms, sizes, and severity. That’s why we label wound as “deep”, “minor”, “abrasion”, “puncture”, “shallow”, and so on. Most of the time, we depend on our judgment call in determining whether we need to go to the hospital or we can just manage it ourselves. If you are inclined to pick the latter, this article will address your concerns and queries.
Having said that, we also need to remember that severe wounds should always be examined by medical professionals. As such, this article will not focus on the treatment of such type. Severe wounds and cuts, such as long and jagged wounds, punctured wounds, those that do not clot, and those with apparent nerve/bone damage, all need immediate medical attention.
If such is the case, call 911 or your nearest clinic for help. Most doctors will prescribe oral antibiotics and/or tetanus shots to avoid further complication. Some wounds will also require stitches for better recovery. These things cannot be performed without proper medical knowledge and access to drugs.
How to manage minor cuts?
In contrast, minor wounds can easily be treated because they do not pose serious health risks. Our body has an innate ability to heal itself. In case of minor wounds, we only need to keep it clean and our body will do the rest.
Basically, you do not need any special medication to treat minor wounds. What you actually need is proper cleaning procedure. Listed below is a step-by-step guide that you can follow when cleaning and dressing fresh wounds.
Stop the bleeding
First and foremost, you need to stop the bleeding as soon as possible. Perform this by mounting pressure around the affected area. It is essential to thoroughly wash your hand before touching the wound to avoid the transfer of bacteria and dirt. Bandage, clean cloth or gauze can be used in stopping the blood flow.
Strong blood flow indicates severed arteries. If the bleeding takes longer than expected (more than 10 minutes), you should visit the nearest medical center as soon as possible.
Clean the wound
As mentioned earlier, treating a wound is about making sure it’s clean. In doing so, you need to immediately wash the wound with clean flowing water. The use of soap is not always advisable because some can cause irritation. In case of remaining debris or dirt, you can use a sanitized cloth to remove such objects from the wound. You can also clean the surrounding area using rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide to eliminate the remaining bacteria.
Cleaning is a critical part of treating a wound. This will prevent future irritation or infection. And keep in mind that the presence of dirt and bacteria will only slow down the speed of healing.
Put anti-microbial ointment around the area
There are several over-the-counter ointments for cleaning wounds. Most of these ointments do not really improve the pace of healing. However, they are effective if you want to avoid any future infection. The thin film of ointment (petroleum jelly is also an excellent substitute) will serve as an immediate barrier that keeps the dirt/bacteria out. It also lessens severe scabbing. Always follow the prescribed amount during every application.
Dress the area with a bandage
There are situations when fresh wounds may come into contact with dirt and other unwanted substances. Dressing the wound with a bandage will be necessary to avoid such instances. However, this is somewhat tricky because prolonged covering usually results in excess moisture. While it is true that wound needs moisture to heal, too much of it will result in the decrease of healing time. As a safety measure, it is good to cover your wound for the first five days to speed up the initial healing phase and to avoid any unwanted contact.
Change the dressing every day. You need to avoid tight dressing to allow better blood circulation. In addition, do not cover the wound without cleaning it because it will only trap dirt and bacteria. When wound shows sign of healing, exposure to air will no longer pose risks.
Phases of Healing
The healing of wound can be categorized into three stages: inflammation, proliferation, and maturation. Knowing this will help you understand the likely pace of wound healing.
This is an important information for you to know the likely pace of healing.
The inflammation stage happens during the first few days. Inflammation is the body’s innate reaction to physical trauma. It generally involves the tightening of damaged blood vessels as platelets develop a clot. This is our body’s way of controlling blood flow. During this stage, a person experiences inflammation in forms of swelling, throbbing pain, and heat.
The proliferation stage lasts for about three weeks or more (depends on the severity of damage). This is the period when the wound begins to rebuild healthy tissues and new blood vessels start to develop. Formation of light pinkish skin ensues, though it is still thin and uneven.
Maturation / Remodeling Stage
The last stage of healing may take more than two years of completion. It mainly involves the total closure of the wound, formation of new collagen, and increase of tissue strength.
However, we always need to remember that tissues do not fully restore once they are damaged. This is why many of pro boxer’s scar tissue, for example, rupture easily during fights because they’re not as strong compared to your original skin.
Why do some cuts not heal fast?
Infection is one of the recurring cause of delayed healing. We need to understand that all wounds actually contain some sort of bacteria. A large concentration of bacteria (called “colonization”), however, significantly affects the pace of healing. Symptoms of infection include unnatural expansion of redness after few days of treatment, discharge of yellowish/greenish pus, increased puffiness and soreness, change of wound size, and even fever.
Treatment of infection depends on its severity. You can start by properly cleaning and dressing the wound every day. Some doctors prescribe antibiotics to neutralize the infection. That is why it is useful to see healthcare providers the moment you observe symptoms of infection.
There are no shortcuts to wound healing. People need to keep in mind that wounds should always be clean and protected. Our body, then, takes care of the rest.
On the other note, you may also check out our tips on how to speed up muscle recovery.