CUTS AND BURNS
Nicks, cuts, scratches and burns. Minor injuries that can
occur to any one of us no matter how careful we are. Minor
injuries to the skin that are often ignored. But it must be
remembered that skin is a vital organ; one that should not
be ignored. Not only is skin the largest bodily organ, it
also keeps the good stuff in and the bad stuff out. So what
do you do when you get a minor injury? If you are like many,
you realize a doctor's visit is not necessary and try to treat
the injury yourself. How do you know when to seek professional
treatment? How do you treat injuries that do not require a
Cuts require immediate professional attention if:
• There is severe bleeding, especially arterial wounds,
which literally pump blood from the body.
• Puncture wounds, such as those caused by a rusty nail
or animal bite. These will require a tetanus booster shot.
• Cuts more than one half inch long and one quarter
inch deep, which will require stitches.
To treat any cuts, first stop the bleeding and then treat
to prevent infection. Place a sterile gauze (or if you do
not have any gauze, a clean cloth) over the wound and hold
it until the bleeding stops. Apply pressure continuously.
If the gauze or cloth soaks through, simply place another
cloth over the first and resume the pressure. When the bleeding
has stopped, wash the cut with soap and water, followed by
a disinfectant. If the bleeding does not stop, get professional
treatment. After the cut is clean, look for any foreign object(s)
in the cut and remove them. If you do not, a threatening infection
may set in. To aid in keeping the wound clean while it heals,
you can cover it with a bandage. However, if you use a bandage,
remember it will need attention too. Change it twice daily
and use an antibiotic cream to prevent further infection.
Keep in mind that wounds exposed to air heal faster. But it
is also very important to keep a wound clean and dry to prevent
Treatment for a scrape is the same, except you do not have
to worry about stopping blood flow as there is very little.
Burns are classified as first, second, or third degree. A
first degree burn causes redness. Blistering is caused by
a second degree burn. Charred, blackened or blanched skin
are signs of a third degree burn. Furthermore, burns can be
caused by heat (thermal burns) or by contact with chemicals.
Seek professional, medical treatment for:
• All third degree burns.
• Second degree burns involving more than one fifth
of the body or if the burn has affected the face, hands, feet,
First aid treatment for a burn involves relief of pain, infection
prevention and treatment or prevention of shock. If a burn
begins to blister, cool it by placing your hand or foot in
cold, still (not running) water. You will need to use an ice
pack on any other part of the body. Gently clean the burn
and cover the area with a sterile, non-stick gauze. Change
the dressing twice a day. Never puncture a blister. This just
opens the door for infection. Never use butter, oils, or petroleum
jelly on burns. If the burn is due to a chemical exposure,
flush the burned area with running water for at least 15 minutes.
While you flush, remove any contaminated clothing, especially
clothing in the area of the burn. Check the first aid instructions
for the chemical. These are found on the container and/or
Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). Treat as specified. Cover
the burn with a clean dressing and call a doctor.
• If a third degree burn is involved, get professional
medical treatment quickly. Call an ambulance first. While
awaiting professional help, make sure any fire is out and/or
remove the victim from the burn source. DO NOT REMOVE ANY
CLOTHING OR APPLY ANY DRESSINGS. Treat for shock and make
sure the victim is still breathing.
Use common sense in all situations. Maintain a well stocked
first aid kit and be familiar with first aid procedures. Being
knowledgeable and prepared may be the smartest first step