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December 10 2020

Different Types of Open Wounds and How to Treat Them

Every person most likely had an open wound in the past, whether it is a small scratch from the playground or a freak accident at work. It can be distressing and even result in other health complications if left untreated. Keep everyone safe by knowing the different types of wounds, along with their treatment methods.

What is an Open Wound?

An open wound is a type of injury that causes an external or internal break in the body’s tissue. It is commonly caused by accidents involving sharp or rough objects that cut through the skin and leave some form of trauma. If left alone, it exposes the body to harmful bacteria, making it at risk of infection.
Just like any other injury, open wounds can be classified into different categories. Minor cuts can be treated at home, but severe cases require emergency services. In case a loved one is wounded or hurt, identifying the wound type can be helpful when administering first-aid.

Types of Open Wounds and Their Treatment Methods

  • Abrasion

Abrasions occur when the skin rubs against a rough surface. This kind of wound is not deep, so there is little to no bleeding that occurs. However, the affected area will need cleaning since it may have been exposed to foreign substances such as dirt and bacteria.
  • Puncture

Punctures are hole-shaped wounds caused by pointy objects such as needles and nails. It may seemingly be harmless, but if the wound is contaminated, antibiotics or a tetanus shot may be needed. Meanwhile, deep punctures (e.g., gunshot wounds) require immediate medical intervention.
  • Incision

An incision is a clean and straight wound caused by a knife, broken glass, or any sharp object. Doctors usually make incisions when performing surgery, but it can be lethal when suffered during an accident. If tendons are affected, an incision will cause heavy bleeding and possibly cause permanent damage. Treatment is done via thorough wound cleaning and stitching.
  • Laceration

A laceration is a deep and jagged cut that results in skin tears and heavy bleeding. This usually happens when people mishandle knives, machinery, and other sharp tools. Similar to an incision, getting a laceration requires extensive cleaning and stitches.
  • Avulsion

An avulsion is a severe wound that can result in the partial or complete tear of the skin and tissues. They usually occur during violent accidents such as car crashes, explosions, and other incidents that involve trauma. Apart from heavy bleeding, some cases of avulsions can also lead to the loss or dislocation of limbs.
  • Amputation

An amputation refers to the loss of an extremity such as an arm, finger, or leg. In the case of an accident, it comes with severe bleeding, which requires emergency medical management. However, amputations can also be done in a medical procedure to manage certain diseases such as gangrene.

Signs of Infection

If a major wound is left alone or treated incorrectly, it can lead to an infection. If these symptoms start to manifest, consult with a healthcare professional as soon as possible.
  • Fever – An infection may spike up the body’s temperature. If it surpasses the normal threshold of 37.5°C, consult with a doctor for medication.
  • Malaise – This refers to fatigue, lack of energy, and a general feeling of discomfort. If recovering from surgery, transparency with a care provider can help speed up recovery.
  • Redness – Wound redness is a natural part of healing, but it should eventually disappear in a week. If it persists over an extended period or starts to expand and cover a larger area, it may be a sign of infection.
  • Swelling – Similar to redness, swelling is another part of wound healing that should disappear gradually. Otherwise, proceed to a medical center for treatment.
  • Increase in temperature of the surrounding area – If the surrounding area of the cut starts to feel warm, this means the immune system is at work due to a bacterial infection.
  • Bodily aches – Persisting pain in the wound and its surrounding area can mean an infection. In case the discomfort becomes unbearable, seek help.
  • Vomiting – Along with nausea and loss of appetite, vomiting is also a common symptom of infections, though it can also be a sign of other ailments.
  • Discharge – During the healing process, the wound may start to secrete yellow, green, or brown pus. While it may be a natural byproduct of the body due to the buildup of dead, white blood cells, this is also a sign of an infection.
  • Unpleasant odor – This commonly happens along with the discharge.

Complications that May Arise from Wound Infection

Here are some notable ailments that may arise from a wound infection.
  • Cellulitis – This infection penetrates the deeper layers of the skin, causing pain in the affected area while exhibiting other flu-like symptoms.
  • Sepsis – This refers to the body’s reaction to an infection, causing damage to various organ systems. Typically, chemicals are released into the bloodstream to fight off an infection, but with sepsis, the chemicals are out of balance, causing changes that can damage organs. 
  • Osteomyelitis – It is a bacterial infection of the bone that leads to redness, fever, swelling, weakness, and pain.
  • Necrotizing fasciitis – A rare condition caused by flesh-eating bacteria that affects the fascial lining of the skin. This serious condition should be treated as soon as possible because it can spread all over the body.
  • Lockjaw (tetanus infection) – An illness that causes the jaw muscles to spasm. Those affected will feel pain and have difficulty opening their mouths.
  • Impetigo (staph infection) – This skin infection is common among children and causes sores, redness, and swelling around one’s nose and mouth.

Stay Safe and Healthy!

When it comes to open wounds and infections, prevention will always be better than cure. Avoid punctures and incisions by ensuring that the environment is free from hazards and that sharp objects are handled with care.
In case you get into an accident, knowing how to spot the type of wound and the treatment needed will help you manage your injury and avoid infection. For severe trauma and other related concerns, do not hesitate to visit Makati Medical Center for immediate treatment.