It might be scraped shins or a puncture wound from walking barefoot, but with an active lifestyle it’s hard to avoid minor wounds for you and your children. If it’s dirty, bleeding, or painful, it’s easy to nervously wonder just what you should do for your injury.
Types of wounds
Abrasions or Grazes
Children are extremely prone to abrasions, which you may know simply as “grazes.” You’ll see it on their elbows or knees after a fall on gravel, cement, or even on the forest floor. These grazes are superficial damage to the knee and look a lot like typical rug burn, but may gently bleed and sting, causing some discomfort. While a grazed knee or elbow is usually not severe in nature, it’s still uncomfortable for you or your loved ones. Generally, a scraped knee or grazed elbow will take a week or so to heal, maybe 2 to 3 weeks if it is more severe.¹
To care for your abrasion or grazed knee:
Wash your hands.
Rinse the grazed body part with sterile or fresh water. Most grazed elbows or knees won’t have debris in the wound that can’t be removed with rinsing, however, if increased water pressure does not remove the debris, remove it with clean, sterile tweezers.
Disinfect the graze using an antiseptic. If you are using an alcohol-based solution, this part may sting, so if you’re helping a child, warn them that they will feel uncomfortable for a moment, but that it will not last long. Allow them to hold onto you while you apply disinfectant over the minor cut or abrasion, or dab at it gently with an alcohol soaked sterile cotton pad. Another option is to use mundicare® Antiseptic Gel, Spray or 100% Pure Oil to clean the wound. It won’t sting, and uses natural Melaleuca Oil as an antiseptic to help reduce the risk of infection.
Use an appropriate, breathable wound dressing for a cut or scrape and change it when it becomes soaked through or is uncomfortable.
¹ How a Scrape Heals-Topic Overview. WebMD. 2016. Available at: http://www.webmd.com/first-aid/tc/how-a-scrape-heals-topic-overview. Accessed June 15, 2016
Exudate and Pus
Exudate is produced as a natural part of the healing process. At one time, exudate was considered unhealthy or at the very least a nuisance. However, recent knowledge reveals that exudate is a helpful and nourishing part of wound healing. Healthy exudate is made from protein-rich fluid which leaks from the porous site of injury. Its purpose is to promote a healthy moist healing environment. Exudate can be minor, moderate, or heavy and therefore different wound dressings will be necessary.
When to See Your Health Care Professional
Visit your health care professional if your wound doesn’t seem to be healing correctly, if there is a lack of scab formation, no change in the wound’s size, or continued bleeding from the site. These may be signs of a more serious underlying issue that delays wound healing.
• Redness around the wound site, streaking red lines beneath the skin, a temperature above 37°C, swelling, and foul-smelling exudate or pus may all indicate wound infection and will need treatment from a medical professional.
• If the wound begins bleeding profusely or has high-pressured bleeding, it should be dealt with at an emergency care facility immediately. A doctor’s visit should be made if you are regularly bleeding through your bandage in less than eight hours. As with all of these signs and symptoms of improper wound healing, delayed treatment can be serious and can cause worsening systems, the need for emergency surgery, or worse. Don’t neglect your health care. If you’re unsure about your wound’s healing, its exudate or pus, seek medical treatment.
Healing Stages of Minor Wounds
Assessing Your Wound’s Exudate
There are three stages in which normal wound healing occurs.
First, inflammation occurs as blood vessels constrict, making it difficult for fluid to return to the vascular system. Platelets do the tough work and create a chemical which builds clots and stop bleeding. Once bleeding has stopped, blood vessels are dilated again, allowing nutrients into the site of injury and old blood back into circulation to be processed.
During this phase, the wound begins to rebuild with what is known as “granulation tissue.” Wound care nurses and doctors look for this tissue as a sign of normal wound healing and assess its colouration.
During the final stage of wound healing, the wound completely closes up. Although it may look as though the healing process is finished, it can take years for tissue under the skin to fully heal. The maturation process is in actuality, the longest phase of wound healing.
When something doesn’t seem right with your wound, it can be frightening. You may wonder whether you need to see a doctor or if your injury is healing the way that it should. Here are some wound complications you might see with your injury. If you see these, please seek medical advice:
- Delayed wound healing.
- Infections: look for signs of infection such as redness and pain at the site, swelling, flu-like symptoms, or an elevated temperature.
- Inadequate scar formation which could lead to dehiscence, a condition where the wound doesn’t completely close.
Slow Wound Healing
Most wounds heal on their own and won’t be an issue for healthy individuals. However, there are times when wound healing takes longer than expected or halts all together. This can cause many problems for the injured, including an increase in risk of infection, longer time spent in pain, and decreased mobility. Factors that delay wound healing include:
- Alcohol use
- Poor nutrition
- Some medications may slow the healing process.
Consult your doctor if you’re concerned that your medications are delaying healing.
¹ Guo SDiPietro L. Factors Affecting Wound Healing. Journal of Dental Research. 2010;89(3):219-229. doi:10.1177/0022034509359125
Wound Care Management
For minor injuries, wound care is simple.
Start by washing your hands before you touch any open skin.
To clean a small open wound or scrape, rinse the injured body part with sterile or fresh water. If debris is present in the wound, increase water pressure to rinse it from the wound, or gently remove it with sterile tweezers or your clean fingers. Do not scrub at the wound.
Disinfect the wound using an antiseptic. If you are using an alcohol-based solution, this part may sting, so warn your child calmly that they may feel uncomfortable for a moment. Allow them to hold onto you while you apply disinfectant over the minor cut or abrasion, or dab at it gently with an alcohol soaked sterile cotton pad. Another option is to use mundicare® Woundaid® Gel to clean the wound. It usually has a soothing and cooling effect, and it uses natural melaleuca oil to help reduce the risk of infection.
Use an appropriate, breathable wound dressing for a cut or scrape and change when it becomes soaked through or is uncomfortable.
Although they may be acute in nature at first, most minor wounds heal on their own. However, certain illnesses and situations may cause wounds to heal slowly or become infected. If you think this might apply to your wound, it’s always best to seek medical attention.