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Wounds and Wound Care

Wound Care Facts

  • The skin is a barrier to the outside world protecting the body from infection, radiation, and extremes of temperature.
  • There are many types of wounds that can damage the skin including abrasions, lacerations, rupture injuries, punctures, and penetrating wounds.
  • Many wounds are superficial requiring local first aid including cleansing and dressing.
  • Some wounds are deeper and need medical attention to prevent infection and loss of function, due to damage to underlying structures like bone, muscle, tendon, arteries and nerves.
  • The purpose of medical care for wounds is to prevent complications and preserve function. While important, cosmetic results are not the primary consideration for wound repair.
  • Animal and human bites should always be seen by a medical professional because of the high rate of infection.
  • It is important to know a person's tetanus immunization status (for example, has the person had a tetanus shot or booster vaccine in the last 5 years?) so that it can be updated with a tetanus booster if needed.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/14/2014
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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Wounds (Care):

Wound Care - Treatment

What treatment was the best for your wound care?

Picture of Stitches

Stitches, Wounds, and Lacerations - Don't Fear the Needle

Medical Author: Benjamin C. Wedro, MD, FAAEM
Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

Sewing is one of the fun things that we do in the emergency department. Repairing a laceration provides the immediate gratification of a job well done, seeing the skin edges come together to provide a nice scar, and it's one of the few times that the emergency doctor can sit down and spend time visiting with a patient.

While providing a nice scar is important, the two reasons we truly care for wounds is to make certain that the structures that run underneath the skin are not damaged and are functioning appropriately and that we can minimize the risk of infection. So it's with regret that I have to disagree with a quote in an article in USA Today by dermatologist Ranella Hirsch ("First aid made simple," by Kim Painter, 2007). She says that "Many doctors now use a medical super glue to close minor wounds. There's no painful stitching, and the wounds heal just as well, she says: "It's a win-win for everybody."

The implication made in Dr. Hirsch's take on stitching is that stitches hurt and that the skin is the most important thing in wound repair. But beauty is only skin deep, and while wounds may appear minor, they all need to be explored to make certain that things like tendons, nerves and joints haven't been damaged. And cleaning out the wound to remove debris is also a task that needs to happen before the skin gets sutured.

Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

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This article discusses the management of chronic wounds. This topic is naturally diverse and far-reaching.

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