When is a Wound an Emergency?

Your at-home first aid kit may be all you need to treat a small cut or wound. But your first aid kit may not be able to fix all wounds, which may have you asking: When is a wound an emergency?

At 1st Choice Urgent Care in Bakersfield, California, our experienced family medicine physician, Dr. Yadwinder Kang, wants you to know when a wound is an emergency and requires medical intervention. 

Bleeding won’t stop

Any cut or laceration of the skin is likely to cause some bleeding, but your body’s wound-healing system reacts quickly to clot the wound and stop the bleeding.

However, if your wound continues to bleed and doesn’t look like it’s going to stop any time soon, then you need emergency care. Losing too much blood may lower your blood pressure and cause you to feel lightheaded and dizzy.

While you’re on your way to the office, we recommend you cover your wound with a thick bandage or clean towel and apply pressure to minimize blood loss. 

Wound is deep or irregular

We recommend you seek emergency care for your wound if it’s deeper than one-quarter of an inch, even if the wound isn’t bleeding excessively. A wound this deep may not close on its own, which means germs can easily enter your body and cause a serious infection. 

Stitches are needed for a deep wound.

You also need emergency care for your wound if the edges of the laceration are jagged or irregular. Like a deep wound, a skin laceration with irregular edges may not heal properly on its own. 

With a skin laceration we may use stitches, adhesive medical tape, or skin glue to close the wound. 

Wound caused by a rusty object or animal bite

Puncture wounds from a rusty nail or a dog requires emergency medical care. These types of wounds may introduce bacteria into your body and increase your risk of developing a serious infection.

Rusty objects, for example, may be contaminated with the Clostridium tetani, which is the bacteria that causes tetanus. Though tetanus is uncommon in the United States thanks to regular vaccinations, you need to have these types of wounds properly examined and treated.

You may also need to update your tetanus vaccination to protect you from an infection.  

Like your mouth, an animal’s mouth is filled with bacteria that may cause serious harm if it enters your bloodstream. Proper cleaning and treatment of an animal bite may prevent serious health complications. 

Object lodged in wound

Though you may be tempted to “self-operate” to remove whatever it is that’s stuck in your wound, you shouldn’t. Whether it’s gravel, wood, or a piece of metal, we can safely remove the lodged object without causing further damage.

We then clean and close your wound and provide any additional treatment to prevent infection.

Whether from a cooking accident or a fall, if you have concerns about treating your wound at home, we can help. Contact us immediately to get the care you need or request an appointment using our online tool.

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