Flesh wounds are injuries to the skin and underlying tissues.
Types of Wounds
Wounds come in two categories, open and closed.
Open wounds typically are quite noticibly due to external bleeding. They include:
- Abrasions of the skin (i.e. scrapes or grazes) are shallow wounds of the epidermis typically caused by friction with a rough surface.
- Incisions are clean or straight cuts by a sharp object such as a scapel, knife or broken piece of glass.
- Lacerations are rough or jagged cuts by a dull object such as a torn piece of metal, or by pressure from a blunt force trauma to the skin (i.e. a tear).
- Penetrations are punctures of the skin by an object (i.e. knife, pitchfork, bullet) where there is an open wound channel for bleeding to take place internally and possibly externally.
Closed wounds may not be noticible at first since they have little or no surface bleeding. They can be dangerous due to internal bleeding that is difficult to control without access to advanced life support (ALS) such as a hospital.
- Contusions are hematomas or bruises due to blunt force trauma to the skin where underlying blood vessels have broken allowing for bleeding into the dermis. Contusions may be indicators where deeper internal injuries (hemorrhages) are located.
- Punctures where an object (i.e. a nail or wooden stake) has impaled the skin and is still in the body may actually stop major bleeding from occuring. Removal of an object in any but the most minor punctures (e.g. slivers) should only be by a doctor with advanced life support.
The first priorties in any emergency where there are flesh wounds are the ABC's of first aid. Maintain airway, monitor the breathing state of the patient and the circulation of blood through the body. Flesh wounds can cause blood loss and/or shock, both which can lower the blood pressure of the patient resulting in unconsciousness and death.
Control bleeding by direct pressure or by use of a hemostatic agent or a hemostatic bandages. Emergency trauma bandages such as an Israeli dressing or simple gauze pads should be applied over the wound to contain blood and help form a clot until advanced life support can treat the wound further. Tourniquets are clamps tied and tightened on a limb suffering major trauma to cut off blood loss. They are not used in most civilian first aid scenarios due to the requirement of limb amputation following application and are only a last resort.
All wounds should be clean, closed if possible, and dressed with gauze or a bandage. Potable water or saline solution should be used to wash out the wound. Any foreign matter (debris) should be removed from the wound. Recent open wounds may be closed using one of several methods. These include Steri strips, Cyanoacrylate (aka Superglue), staples, and sutures. Only those with proper medical training should operate on flesh wounds. Minor wounds can be dressed with antiseptic ointment and dressed with a simple bandage without seeking further medical attention unless infection occurs.