Get treated immediately for cuts and wounds

There’s a place for doing it yourself when it comes to caring for simple cuts and puncture wounds. But when the wound is serious, you need medical attention. Every good DIY-er should know when it’s time to call in a professional.

Why you should seek treatment for cuts and puncture wounds

Our skin is a miraculous organ that works to keep our insides in and nasty things like foreign objects and infections out. Major breaks in the skin, through cuts and punctures, need a doctor’s care to assure proper healing, limit scarring, and minimize the risk of infection.

Know when to visit a health care provider

Here are some signs that should have you going to the doctor’s office, walk-in clinic, or emergency room right away. In more serious, life-threatening instances, call 911 immediately.

Excessive bleeding from wounds

If there’s lots of bleeding, you should apply direct pressure to the wound and when possible elevate the wound.  If you’re having difficulty controlling the bleeding, call 911 for emergency medical assistance.

Objects in the wound

When you see objects in the wound (pieces of the material that punctured your skin), it’s better to have a doctor clean out the wound than to risk a foreign object infecting it. If you can’t see anything inside the wound but a piece of the object that caused the injury is missing, it’s time to get professional attention.

Large or deep wounds

When the wound is large or deep, even if the bleeding is not severe, it’s time to call the doctor. If the wound is deeper than ¼” it usually will benefit from stitches.  If the edges of wound aren’t right next to each other or spread apart with movement of the affected area then stitches or gluing of the wound will quicken healing and decrease the size of the scar.

Cuts and wounds from rusty objects

Make sure that cuts and punctures from rusty objects, like nails, fishhooks, and angle irons, get a doctor’s attention. Your doctor will see that you’re up to date on your tetanus shot or if a new one is needed.  If you haven’t had a tetanus shot in the last 5 years then you should get a booster anytime you get a cut that may have dirt in it.

Animal bites

A doctor should treat puncture wounds from animal bites to minimize the risk of infection or poisoning.

Loss of feeling and mobility from a wound

If the injured person can’t feel the injured area or it doesn’t work right, greater damage might be happening under the skin. A doctor should address those concerns right away.

Infection in cuts and wounds

Watch for signs of infection in the wound. These might include warmth and redness in the area, a painful or throbbing sensation, fever, swelling, or pus-like drainage. A doctor needs to address these conditions right away.

Know basic first aid

Be familiar with basic first aid for serious cuts and punctures. In those situations, your knowledge can make the difference in keeping someone stable until emergency personnel arrive. For example, if the object causing a large puncture is stuck in the body, don’t try removing it yourself. You may disturb nearby blood vessels and cause massive bleeding.

Last reviewed: 
June 2017

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