Cuts, Scrapes, and Puncture Wounds
When your skin is cut or scraped, you begin to bleed. This is because blood vessels in the area are damaged. Bleeding serves a useful purpose, because it helps to clean out a wound. But too much bleeding can cause you to go into shock.
You can’t always judge how serious a cut or wound is by the amount of blood. Some serious injuries bleed very little. And cuts on the head, face, and mouth may bleed a lot because there are a lot of blood vessels in those areas.
Abdominal and chest wounds can be very serious because the internal organs can be cut, causing internal bleeding and even shock. Abdominal and chest wounds are considered an emergency, and you should call for medical help immediately, especially if there are symptoms of shock, such as dizziness, weakness, pale and clammy skin, shortness of breath and increased heart rate. While waiting for medical care, give first aid treatment for shock. Have the person lie quietly with the feet elevated about 12 inches. Cover him or her with a blanket to maintain body warmth.
First aid for cuts and wounds includes:
- Help the person to remain calm. If the cut is large or bleeding heavily, have him or her lie down. If the wound is on an arm or leg, raise the limb above the level of the heart to slow bleeding.
- Remove obvious debris, such as sticks or grass. If the object is embedded in the body, do not remove it.
- If the cut is small, wash it out with soap and water. Do not clean a large wound.
- After putting on gloves, apply firm pressure to the wound with a folded cloth or bandage for about 10 minutes. Do not look at the wound during this time, as it may begin bleeding again. If blood soaks through, add another cloth or bandage and continue holding pressure on the cut for an additional 10 minutes.
- When bleeding has stopped, tape a clean bandage over the cut.
When to seek medical care for a cut or wound:
- If it is jagged or deep, or if it is a puncture wound.
- If the cut is on the face.
- If it is a result of an animal bite.
- If there is dirt that won’t come out after washing.
- If the bleeding won’t stop.
It’s common for both children and adults to get a bloody nose. And most nosebleeds are not serious, especially in children. Adults can have nosebleeds related to high blood pressure or hardening of the arteries, and it may be more difficult to stop them.
First aid treatment for a nosebleed:
- Have the person sit down, leaning the head forward. This will reduce the pressure in the nasal veins, slowing the bleeding.
- Have him or her push the nostril firmly against the septum (the dividing wall in the nose) on the side of the nosebleed. If he is unable to do this, put on gloves and hold the nose for him. Hold for five to 10 minutes.
- Once the nose stops bleeding, instruct the person not to blow his or her nose for several days. This could dislodge the clot and cause bleeding to start again.
When to seek medical help for a nosebleed:
- If bleeding doesn’t stop after about 20 minutes.
- If the nosebleed is related to a fall or injury (the nose may have been broken).