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Wounds are simply a part of life. Our skin is the largest organ in our body — and it’s also one of the most delicate parts of our body. Cuts, lacerations, and burns can happen for a wide variety of reasons. Find out what to do when your skin is compromised, what types of at-home care are available, and when you should call the doctor.
Types of Wounds
A wound is when the body’s tissue becomes broken for one reason or another. Most wounds can be cared for at home, but more serious wounds require emergency or urgent medical attention. The most common types of wounds include:
Common Causes of Wounds
Wounds can happen anytime, anyplace. It’s extremely common to get a wound at some point in your lifetime. We can’t do much in the modern world without fear of falling, accidents, and cuts. The most common causes of accidental wounds include:
- Burns from touching a hot pan, toaster oven, or stove
- Animal bites
- Bug bites
- Cuts from sharp objects (cooking knives, screwdrivers, saws, etc.)
- Accidental stabbings
- Car accidents
- Sports accidents
At-Home Wound Care
We can treat most wounds at home ourselves. Getting a small cut or burning yourself on a hot pan are common types of non-emergency wounds. If you get a wound that doesn’t look serious, you can always treat it yourself.
- Hold burned skin underneath cool water (note: don’t do this for a severe burn)
- Clean any open skin
- Apply over-the-counter burn cream or antiseptic
- Cover the wound with a bandage
- Keep the wound clean and free of debris
- Try not to touch the wound or pick at any scabs
- Use OTC pain medication
Medical Wound Care
If your wound is serious, you’ll want to consult an urgent care clinic (contact an online clinic first to see if the wound is as serious as you predict), go to the emergency room, or call 911.
If you’re bleeding heavily, feel faint, or badly burned, call 911. Basically, when in doubt, call emergency dispatch; the operator should be able to determine if you need to head to the emergency room or to your doctor’s office or urgent care center.
If your wound requires a doctor’s care, some of the wound care treatments used may include:
- OTC pain medications
- Prescription pain medications
- Sutures or skin glue
- Gauze to pack the wound
- Tetanus shots
- Rabies shots for animal bites
- Ice packs for swelling
If your wound doesn’t require emergency attention (but still looks somewhat serious), we recommend chatting with an online urgent care doctor. Instead of sitting for hours in a waiting room with sicker patients, you’ll get wound care from your own home.