Open wounds are extremely painful to victims and intimidating to those who must treat them. Before attempting treatment, it is helpful to know what kind of open wound you're dealing with in order to avoid aggravating the wound or treating it ineffectively. There are at least five kinds of open wounds: abrasions, incisions, lacerations, punctures and avulsions. A closed wound is one which affects the tissue underneath the skin, such as a bruise or blood blister.
Abrasions are usually caused by friction between the skin and a rough surface. They are commonly called scrapes. Abrasions usually don't result in serious bleeding because the damage occurs close to the surface of the skin. However, without proper care they can become infected and result in scars. Clean an abrasion with soapy water to eliminate any dirt that's embedded in the skin. Avoid itching or picking at scrapes or scabs.
Incisions are clean cuts made by sharp objects, such as knives, razors or pieces of glass. They can be deep and usually result in heavy, rapid loss of blood. Incisions don't usually become infected because the cut does not have jagged edges to attract dirt. Apply direct pressure to the wound to slow bleeding, and seek emergency care if blood loss is severe and continuous.
A laceration is a tear in the skin, usually caused by blunt objects. They can be difficult to treat and recovery time is often longer than with other types of open wounds. Lacerations often involve the skin tissue as well as extensive damage to underlying tissues and are also prone to infection because the wounds usually have jagged, torn edges. Heavy bleeding or hemorrhage is another concern. Professional care is recommended for lacerations.
Punctures, usually caused by nails, needles or other small pointed objects, might not appear to be serious but puncture wounds can damage underlying organs and result in internal bleeding. Puncture wounds are prone to tetanus infection and should be treated by a doctor if they are serious. If you have a puncture wound and the object is still in the skin, do not remove it.
An avulsion results in severe tearing of tissues, often resulting in hanging skin or complete tearing. If part of the skin is detached, try to find it, rinse it, wrap in sterile gauze and store it in a sterile plastic bag. Do not freeze or place completely in water. Bleeding can often be heavy and pressure should be applied immediately. If skin is hanging from the wound, put it back in place and apply steady pressure.