Proper management of open wounds

Open wounds can range from minor to severe. It is important to note that an open wound is any injury or damage involving an exterior or interior breakage in the bodily tissues, usually affecting the skin. Almost everyone has experienced open wounds at some point. Luckily, most are minor and can be managed at home.

Home care for minor open wounds

  • Cleanse and disinfect the wound to eliminate any debris or dirt
  • Apply direct pressure and raise the affected area to control the bleeding and swelling
  • Use a sterile dressing or bandage when covering the wound
  • A pain medication can be taken to alleviate the discomfort due to the wound
  • Apply an ice pack if there is swelling or bruising
    Open wounds

    Apply direct pressure and raise the affected area to control the bleeding and swelling.

When spending time outdoors under direct exposure to the sun, apply a sunscreen with SPF 30 over the area until it is fully healed.

When to consult a doctor

Even though some open wounds can be managed at home, a doctor must be consulted if:

  • The wound is deeper than ½ inch
  • Bleeding does not stop with direct pressure
  • Bleeding is due to a serious accident
  • Bleeding lasts longer than 20 minutes

Medical care

The doctor might utilize various techniques to manage severe cases of open wounds. After cleansing and possibly numbing the area using anesthetic, the doctor might seal the wound using sutures, skin glue or stitches. A tetanus booster shot might be given for a puncture wound.

Other treatment options for open wounds include:

  • Pain medications
  • Penicillin or other antibiotics can be given if the wound is infected or there is a high risk for infection

In some cases, surgery might be required. After treatment by the doctor, bandages and dressings might be placed.

Always wash hands when changing dressings and bandages. It is vital to sanitize and dry the wound thoroughly before applying a new dressing again. Dispose of the soiled dressings properly.

More Information / Disclaimer

The information posted on this page on open wounds is for learning purposes only. Learn to properly care for open wounds by taking a standard first aid course with Kelowna First Aid.