In emergency rooms, individuals who have severed toes or fingers are commonly treated. Always remember that this is considered as a serious injury and if bleeding is not controlled, it can be fatal. With the appropriate first aid measures and timely response, the severed digit can be reattached if the individual is taken directly to the nearest hospital.
What to do?
If a family member or friend has a toe or finger that has been completely cut off, the initial move is to call for emergency assistance right away. While waiting for the medical team to arrive, you have to get clean cotton cloth and water. It is important to control the bleeding, prevent possible infection and save the severed digit if possible and to avoid shock from developing.
Steps to follow when handling a severed toe or finger injury
Initially, position the individual lying down with the head lower than the heart level and elevate the bleeding foot or hand. Place the wound under running water gently and apply a clean cloth with minimal pressure.
Always remember that the individual is in pain and under a lot of stress. In such conditions, the heart will beat rapidly resulting to an increase in the bleeding. With this in mind, it is vital to calm the individual. Instruct him/her to perform slow breathing exercises and assure him/her that help is on the way. Once the cloth is drenched and it continues to bleed, do not remove the soiled cloth but simply apply another over it. In case the bleeding cannot be stopped, you have to apply a tourniquet. Take note that it has risks, but I can save a life.
In case you can find the severed toe or finger, you have to remove any rings or constricting items. Clean the digit gently using water and wrap it in gauze and place it in an airtight plastic bag. Make sure that you will include all pieces of the digit if there is more than one. The plastic bag containing the digit must be put on ice. If possible, always keep the container close by. Continue to calm the individual until the healthcare team arrives on the scene.
What to do if you are alone?
If you are on your own with either a severed toe or finger, it is important to call for emergency assistance or go directly to the nearest hospital. You have to run cold water over the foot or hand to help stop the bleeding, press a cloth or towel on the wound and lie down with the foot or hand elevated. If possible, perform slow breathing exercises to stay calm as well as to avoid shock.
Understandably, prevention is the best way to avoid any permanent damage. It is important to be careful when handling knives, broken glass and other sharp objects.