Wound Signs and Symptoms
- The most common symptoms of a wound are pain, swelling, and bleeding. The amount of pain, swelling, and bleeding of a wound depends upon the location of the injury and the mechanism of injury.
- Some large lacerations may not hurt very much if they are located in an area that has few nerve endings, while abrasions of fingertips (which have a greater number of nerves) can be very painful.
- Some lacerations may bleed more if the area involved has a greater number of blood vessels, for example, the scalp and face.
When to Seek Medical Care for a Wound
Most wounds can be treated at home with routine first aid including thorough washing and dressing to prevent infection.
Some of the following are reasons medical care should be obtained for a wound:
- If the wound is due to significant force or trauma and other injures are be present.
- If bleeding cannot be stopped even with persistent pressure and elevation.
- If there is concern that wound requires repair with sutures (stitches). The size and location of the wound are important considerations. Most facial wounds may need to be repaired for cosmetic reasons, especially if they involve the lip or eye.
- If the wound is caused by an animal bite. There is also a need to consider rabies immunizations, if appropriate.
- If the wound is very dirty and cannot be easily cleaned.
- If there is evidence of infection including redness, swelling, increased pain, and pus at the wound.
- If tetanus immunizations are not up to date, then a booster is needed within 48 hours. If the patient has never been immunized, the initial tetanus prevention with immunoglobulin should be given immediately.
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