To begin this section, we cover soft tissue injuries, which fall under two categories—minor and major. Minor soft tissue injuries include abrasions, such as wounds, small cuts, or scrapes. Major injuries are a large cut, or a laceration, that requires stitches and soft tissue injuries, such as stab wounds or amputations, demand immediate emergency assistance.
There are generally four categories of injuries, with abrasions being the most common type of open wound. Abrasions do not bleed much, with a mild sensation of pain associated with them. It is important to clean and flush an abrasion thoroughly with soap and water to prevent infection and then to apply a sterile dressing, such as a bandage.
A laceration is a cut into the skin that is caused by a sharp object. Bleeding from a laceration can be heavy, or there may be no blood at all. Lacerations are not always painful but can become easily infected, so proper care must be given to prevent infection. You should not wash more serious wounds that require medical attention because these involve more extensive tissue damage or bleeding. It is more important to control the bleeding by applying direct pressure on the wound.
Another form of injury is a puncture wound, which may not bleed much unless a blood vessel has been injured. The object that caused the puncture wound should only be removed by licensed medical personnel. Such an injury has a higher chance of infection due to the object that entered the soft tissues and the depth of the soft tissue damage. This can cause significant bleeding that may be hard to control.
An amputation or a crush injury is a major injury that could be life-threatening due to the potential volume of blood loss. All amputation or crush injuries require immediate emergency care until a medical professional can take over. Immediately contact 911 or Emergency Medical Services, commonly referred to as EMS, to activate the emergency response system. In the meantime, apply direct pressure on the open wound. If you are unable to control the bleeding, you should apply a tourniquet only if you have received training on how to apply one. Emergency medical personnel are trained in how to handle the amputated tissue, so it has the best chance of being reattached successfully.
Give general care for all open wounds as specific care depends on whether the person has a minor or a major open wound. General care for open wounds includes controlling bleeding by applying direct pressure, preventing infection, and using bandages. All open wounds need some type of bandage to help control bleeding and prevent infection. Bandages or pads are placed directly on the wound to absorb blood and other fluids to help promote clotting and to prevent infection. If blood soaks through the bandage, do not remove the bandage. Instead, add more bandages and continue applying pressure. The use of pressure points and elevation to control or slow bleeding is no longer recommended for treatment. To minimize the chance of infection, bandages should be sterile, and most are porous, allowing air to circulate through the wound to promote healing.
Another common issue is a nosebleed. The best method to stop a nosebleed is to have the individual lean slightly forward and pinch their nose shut for about ten minutes. You can also apply ice or a cold pack that has been wrapped in a cloth, on the bridge of the nose. If this method doesn’t stop the bleeding, apply pressure on the upper lip just beneath the nose, and call 911 or EMS.
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