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Symptoms and Signs of Wound Care

Doctor's Notes on Wounds and Wound Care First Aid and Healing Time

Wounds are an injury to living tissue caused by a cut, blow, or other impact trauma, typically where the skin is cut or broken. Types of wounds include superficial (small cuts or abrasions that leave the deep skin layer is intact), deep abrasions the go through all layers of skin and into a tissue like muscle or bone, ones caused by sharp objects entering skin, gunshot wounds, human and/or animal bites and pressure sores (bedsores). The most common symptoms and signs of a wound are pain, swelling and bleeding; other signs and symptoms of more serious wounds include substantial tissues loss and/or significant damage to an internal organ like the lungs, brain or heart with subsequent signs and symptoms that relate to the injury of the organ. Signs and symptoms of wounds that need to be medically cared for are as follows: significant force or trauma created the wound, bleeding cannot be stopped with persistent pressure or elevation, wounds in the face including the lips or eyes and/or the wound needs to be sutured, wound is caused by an animal bite or human bite, the wound is very dirty, there is evidence of infection (redness, swelling increased pain and pus production) and/or the wound involves underlying organs and/or tissue loss.

Causes are numerous for wounds. Falls, road rash, stabbing, cuts from metal or glass, gunshots, blunt objects like a piece of wood, explosions and many other items can cause wounds. Wound care (cleaning away dirt, stop the bleeding, assess for associated organ damage, closing the wound with stitches, and other techniques and treatments) help prevent further body damage and encourage wound healing.

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

Wounds and Wound Care First Aid and Healing Time Symptoms

The most common symptoms of a wound are pain, swelling, and bleeding. The amount of pain, swelling, and bleeding of a wound depends upon the location of the injury and the mechanism of injury. Some large lacerations may not hurt very much if they are located in an area that has few nerve endings, while abrasions of fingertips (which have a greater number of nerves) can be very painful. Some lacerations may bleed more if the area involved has a greater number of blood vessels, for example, the scalp and face.

Wounds and Wound Care First Aid and Healing Time Causes

Wounds occur when the skin is broken or damaged because of injury. Causes of injury may be the result of mechanical, chemical, electrical, thermal, or nuclear sources. The skin can be damaged in a variety of ways depending upon the mechanism of injury.

Inflammation is the skin's initial response to injury.

Superficial (on the surface) wounds and abrasions leave the deeper skin layers intact. These types of wounds are usually caused by friction rubbing against an abrasive surface.

Deep abrasions (cuts or lacerations) go through all the layers of the skin and into underlying tissue like muscle or bone.

Puncture wounds are usually caused by a sharp pointed object entering the skin. Examples of puncture wounds include a needle stick, stepping on a nail, or a stab wound with a knife.

Human and animal bites can be classified as puncture wounds, abrasions, or a combination of both.

Pressure sores (bed sores) can develop due to lack of blood supply to the skin caused by chronic pressure on an area of the skin (for example, a person who is bedridden, sits for long hours in a wheelchair, or a cast pressing on the skin). Individuals with diabetes, circulation problems (peripheral vascular disease), or malnutrition are at an increased risk of pressure sores.

Proper wound care is necessary to prevent infection, assure there are no other associated injuries, and to promote healing of the skin. An additional goal, if possible, is to have a good cosmetic result after the wound has completely healed. This wound care article is designed to present information on wounds involving mainly the skin; it is not meant to cover all wounds (for example, gunshot, degloving wounds, tendon lacerations, and others).

Cuts and Scrapes Caring for Wounds in Pictures Slideshow

Cuts and Scrapes Caring for Wounds in Pictures Slideshow

Blood helps clean wounds, so a little bleeding is good. Most small cuts and scrapes stop bleeding pretty quickly, but you can help by applying firm, gentle pressure with gauze or a tissue. If blood soaks through, put another piece of gauze or tissue on top, don't remove the old one or you may separate the wound and start the bleeding again.


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.