When to Seek Medical Care for a Wound

Your skin takes a lot of abuse as it protects your insides from the outside world. It withstands bumps and bruises, burns and bug bites, but when you cut it open, all bets are off. That’s because the barrier has been broken and bacteria can creep in and cause infection.

Wound care is critical even for minor cuts and scrapes, so it’s important to educate yourself on the right steps to take anytime you break the skin. Joseph Goin, MD, and our team here at Calvary Urgent Care, in Humble, Texas, see a lot of wounds of every kind, ranging from minor to life-threatening. So we’ve compiled this guide to help you feel confident about how to treat wounds at home and how to identify wounds that need our professional help.

How to handle wound care at home

Minor cuts that are small, shallow, and stop bleeding when you apply direct pressure can usually be cared for at home. Here’s what to do:

Change the bandage every day, and make sure it stays clean and dry. 

When to seek medical attention for your wound

If you’ve been caring for your wound at home, but it’s still bleeding after a day or two, it’s time to get help. Here are some of the other telltale signs that should alert you to come in and see us immediately. 

The edges are uneven

If the edges of your wound are clean and straight, there’s a good chance it will heal well naturally. But if there’s skin missing or the edges are jagged, you may need stitches or expert bandaging. Sometimes, even if the edges are straight, they just won’t knit together. If you notice this, it’s time to get professional help.

You can’t get it clean

It can be difficult — and painful — to thoroughly clean your wound. If you have deeply embedded debris and can’t get it out, or it hurts too much to try, we can help. If necessary, we can even use a local anesthetic to keep you comfortable during the process. 

The cause of the wound was unsanitary

Anytime you get cut, there’s at least a small chance of infection, but if the thing that caused your cut or wound is clearly contaminated, rusty, or dirty, it’s important to come in so we can sterilize the wound and give you a tetanus shot if yours isn’t up-to-date.

Tetanus, also known as lockjaw, is a serious disease you can get from bacteria that are easily introduced into your body through an open wound. To prevent this, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a tetanus booster vaccine every 10 years for adults. 

Animal bites are another type of wound that require professional medical care to prevent infection and rabies

You see signs of infection

The overriding goal of wound care is to keep infection out of the equation. If you experience any of the following, come see us right away:

If infection does set in, we prescribe antibiotics to help your body fight it. We also monitor your wound closely and keep it clean and properly dressed. 

If you don’t get your infected wound treated by a professional health care provider, you put yourself at risk for more serious problems: the infection can advance into your bones and your bloodstream and cause limb- or life-threatening conditions.

If you or a loved one has a wound that’s exhibiting signs of infection or doesn’t seem to be healing properly, call our office or schedule an appointment online right away.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Different Types of Employment Physicals

Résumés, interviews, and references are all part of the employment process. But did you know that you may be required to undergo a physical exam too? Here are the various types of physicals you may need before or after you get the job.

Who Needs a Closed Reduction With a Broken Bone?

From hairline fractures to severe compound fractures, broken bones need immediate medical attention — but which treatment is best? Find out the difference between a closed and open reduction, and which technique is right for which type of fracture.

The Benefits of an On-Site Pharmacy

The last thing you want to do when you’re sick or injured is drive to your local pharmacy and stand in line waiting for your medication. Wouldn’t it be great if your doctor and your pharmacy were in the same place and worked together?

Signs Your Wound Is Getting Worse

Whether your skin has been burned, cut, scraped, or punctured, it may seem like nothing could be worse — but a wound that doesn’t heal properly or gets infected is even more serious. Here’s what to watch for.

What Happens at a DOT Physical?

So you landed a job as a commercial truck driver, or maybe you’re transporting kids to and from school, or hauling hazardous waste. Congratulations! Now you need a DOT physical. Read on to find out what that entails.