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EMERGENCIES: PUNCTURES

Don’t take them lightly
A puncture wound is a penetrating injury with a sharp-pointed object such as a nail. Seemingly minor puncture wounds sometimes can cause considerable internal damage and—because they can be hard to clean — can become easily infected. If you have not had a tetanus booster within the last five years or if you have not completed your primary series, your doctor will probably recommend a tetanus shot to prevent tetanus (or “lockjaw”).
What you can do
Seek emergency medical care if an object, such as a knife, projects from or is embedded in the skin. Never try to pull the object out, since this could cause further injury. Very gently place a clean, damp cloth around the wound.
Allow the wound to bleed freely to cleanse itself. Don’t apply pressure unless blood is spurting out or is excessive.
If the puncture wound isn’t serious enough to need emergency medical attention, wash it thoroughly with soap and water or hydrogen peroxide. Remove dirt carefully, using tweezers wiped with alcohol to extract debris. Pat wound dry with clean cloth and stop bleeding. Small wounds will stop bleeding on their own. For others, you may need to apply pressure with a gauze pad or clean cloth and elevate the area above the level of the heart.
Antiseptics, such as Mercurochrome and Merthiolate, aren’t necessary and may cause pain. Nonprescription antibiotic ointments, such as Neosporin and bacitracin, may help prevent infection. Apply them to the side of the bandage that touches the wound, rather than to the wound itself.
Cover the wound with a sterile bandage. Change the dressing at least once a day and keep the area clean and dry.
Remove bandage and soak the area in warm water a few times a day for four to five days to promote healing.
Watch closely for signs of infection.
Keep a well-stocked first-aid kit on.
Final notes
Any wound that doesn’t heal well in two weeks should be seen by a doctor. Infection is a common and potentially serious complication that can occur even with minor wounds. An infected wound will take longer to heal and is more likely to scar.
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EMERGENCIES: PUNCTURES
Don’t take them lightlyA puncture wound is a penetrating injury with a sharp-pointed object such as a nail. Seemingly minor puncture wounds sometimes can cause considerable internal damage and—because they can be hard to clean — can become easily infected. If you have not had a tetanus booster within the last five years or if you have not completed your primary series, your doctor will probably recommend a tetanus shot to prevent tetanus (or “lockjaw”).
What you can do Seek emergency medical care if an object, such as a knife, projects from or is embedded in the skin. Never try to pull the object out, since this could cause further injury. Very gently place a clean, damp cloth around the wound.Allow the wound to bleed freely to cleanse itself. Don’t apply pressure unless blood is spurting out or is excessive.If the puncture wound isn’t serious enough to need emergency medical attention, wash it thoroughly with soap and water or hydrogen peroxide. Remove dirt carefully, using tweezers wiped with alcohol to extract debris. Pat wound dry with clean cloth and stop bleeding. Small wounds will stop bleeding on their own. For others, you may need to apply pressure with a gauze pad or clean cloth and elevate the area above the level of the heart.Antiseptics, such as Mercurochrome and Merthiolate, aren’t necessary and may cause pain. Nonprescription antibiotic ointments, such as Neosporin and bacitracin, may help prevent infection. Apply them to the side of the bandage that touches the wound, rather than to the wound itself.Cover the wound with a sterile bandage. Change the dressing at least once a day and keep the area clean and dry.Remove bandage and soak the area in warm water a few times a day for four to five days to promote healing.Watch closely for signs of infection.Keep a well-stocked first-aid kit on.Final notes Any wound that doesn’t heal well in two weeks should be seen by a doctor. Infection is a common and potentially serious complication that can occur even with minor wounds. An infected wound will take longer to heal and is more likely to scar.*11\303\2*

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