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By Bjarne Lühr Hansen PhD, MD and Philipp Skafte-Holm MD, Mentor Institute

Everyone has experienced a bleeding wound either caused by accidental stabbing or cutting injuries to the skin or following an abrasion. Far most wounds are treatable at home.

No matter where the wound is located or how big/deep the wound is, you should do the following:

  • stop the bleeding
  • clean the wound for dirt
  • determine whether the wound is treatable at home or whether to contact the doctor
  • dress the wound
  • determine whether you need a tetanus vaccination
  • watch for signs of infection

A wound heals in the course of 8-10 days. The first 1-2 days, the body cleans the wound by itself. While this takes place, the wound is weeping and mucky. After 3-5 days, a crust is formed covering the wound and after 6-8 days, the skin grows to cover the wound underneath the crust. Finally, after 8-12 days, the crust falls of and reveals a scar.

If inflammation of the wound arises it appears as swelling, warmth, redness and soreness. All four signs must be present at the same time. The first days following the accident the wound is watery which makes some people think that the wound is inflamed – it is not, however – it is the body that cleans the wound. Inflammation does not appear until after 2 days, at the earliest.

What can you do?

If a wound bleeds, the bleeding must be stopped. The bleeding is stopped with firm pressure against the wound with gaze for 5 minutes. A handkerchief or some kitchen paper is also suitable. Thereafter, you can carefully look at the wound. If there is dirt in the wound, the wound must be cleaned with water and soap until it is clean. Finally, you put a band-aid on the wound so that the edges of the wound are pressed together. The wound should avoid water for 2 days.

Contact the doctor tomorrow

If there is redness, warmth, soreness and swelling around the wound, it may be a sign of inflammation. If you are uncertain whether you have been given a tetanus vaccination. Not more than 24 hours should pass following the accident, before you have a vaccination.

Contact the doctor immediately

If the bleeding does not stop after 5 - 10 minutes of firm pressure. If you are unable to clean the wound. If the wound is so big that it need stitches or glue. The size and location of the wound is crucial in determining whether to stitch or glue the wound. A wound in the face that gapes more than ½ cm should have stitches or glue. Wounds other places on the body should be examined by a doctor if they gape more than 1 cm.