Cuts are the most common injury. Rather they occur at work or outside while having a great time with the family, they are usually minor and can be easily treated on the scene. However, it is important that cuts can be serious resulting in major blood loss, shock, loss of use of the body part which may last from a few seconds to a lifetime, and can even result in death. Treating a cut should be a two step process, involving first determining how serious the situation is and then taking appropriate action on the scene.
The person doing the treating should first determine the likelihood of shock from bleeding. The body of an adult contains 5 to 6 quarts of blood, while a newborn baby only has about 290 milliliters. Therefore, an adult can safely loose more blood than a newborn without going into shock. For an adult, it is usually safe for them to loose a pint without any detrimental effects. However, the loss of two pints in an adult may result in shock and a loss of 5 pints will often result in death. If the bleeding is severe, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room quickly. Hold the affected area above the heart to stop the blood flow and apply pressure to the affected area.
Two other scenarios exist when bleeding from a cut can be life threatening. The first scenario is the blood is spurting out of the wound in a bright red color. In this case, it is very likely that an artery has been cut. Again it is important to act very quickly, by holding the affected area higher than the heart, applying pressure and calling 911. The second scenario is that blood is flowing from the mouth, eyes, ears, nose, or rectum. This is an indication that there are internal injuries. Call 911 immediately.
In most cases, a cut is minor. The first line of attack should be to apply direct pressure using a sterile cloth. Apply the sterile cloth and tape in place. If the sterile bandage becomes blood soaked, apply another one on top of it. Do not remove the first one. This bandage should be tight enough to reduce bleeding, but not tight enough to cut off circulation. Then head to the nearest urgent care center or your family doctor. Try to keep the body part above the heart, as this will slow the rate of blood flow.
For a very minor cut, follow the above procedure of applying direct pressure. Then after the blood has stopped flowing, carefully remove the bandage. Watch for signs that the wound is starting to bleed again. If so, stop and reapply direct pressure. Next, clean the area extremely well with an antibiotic soap. This will help to kill any germs on the wound. Then apply a clean sterile bandage.
If bruises are accompanied by severe pain or projectile vomiting consult a doctor immediately. If the person has passed out while getting the bruise, head to the nearest doctor or urgent care facility. In other cases, ice the area immediately. The easiest way to do this is to take some ice cubes and wrap them in a towel. Hold the ice on the affected area for 15 minutes each hour. Take acetaminophen for the pain. If the pain is severe in two hours then ibuprofen can be taken. This procedure can be continued for up to 48 hours. After 48 hours, then apply heat every hour for 15 minutes, if needed.
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