Wound Care

The skin protects the body from a number of outside dangers, including infections, radiation and extremes of temperature. There are many kinds of skin wounds of varying causes and severity. Most of them – scrapes, abrasions and superficial lacerations – only require home care and first aid. Deeper, more serious wounds may require professional wound care to prevent infection and loss of function. Some types of wounds always require medical attention. For example, wounds caused by human and animal bites should always be seen by a medical professional because of the high risk of infection.

Symptoms and Complications

The symptoms and complications requiring wound care depend upon the type of wound, the cause and the severity of the wound. The most significant complications include:

* Infection: when the skin is compromised, bacteria and virus find an easy entry into the body. Infections can become life-threatening.

* Loss of function: when the underlying layers are damaged, there can be loss of mobility and sensation

* Necrosis: tissue death can result if the flow of blood is interrupted to the areas around the wound

* Gangrene: develops as a complication of an untreated, infected wound and can result in the loss of a limb

Risk Factors and Causes

There are many different types of wounds, ranging from abrasions to puncture wounds and pressure sores. The major categories include:

* Inflammation: the skin’s initial response to injury

* Superficial abrasions: often caused by skin rubbing against an abrasive surface, usually only affect the top layer of the skin

* Deep abrasions: including lacerations go through all layers of the skin

* Bites: are a special class of abrasion and puncture wounds that require careful wound care because of the amount of bacteria present in saliva

* Puncture wounds: are caused by a sharp object entering the skin

* Pressure sores: develop when skin of a specific area of the body is deprived of blood by chronic pressure on that area. They are most common in people who are bedridden or sit for hours in a wheelchair. Risk factors for pressure sores include diabetes, poor circulation and malnutrition.


The goal of wound care is to prevent infection, reduce loss of function and promote healing of the skin. If possible, a secondary aim is to have a good cosmetic result when the skin is healed. Treatment in wound care may include antibiotics, stitches, ointments and treatments to promote healing.

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