MTM 015: 7 First Aid Skills: How to Handle Cuts, Wounds, and Bleeding

HOW TO HANDLE CUTS, WOUNDS, AND BLEEDING. This is the 2nd episode of our series on Acquiring First Aid skills. Previously, we learned How to Handle Bites and Stings. Today, we will be looking at how to handle cuts, wounds, and bleeding.

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How to Handle Cuts, Wounds, and Bleeding

 It is common to have a wound (and bleed) – from the mild regular kitchen knife cut to severe road traffic accidents. Knowing how to handle cuts, wounds, and bleeding will help preserve health and life. You would be able to know what to do before the arrival of a doctor (or before going to a medical facility for care).

  3 major fears we have are the life-threatening situation due to:

  • Excessive bleeding: and as it is said – life is in the blood!
  • Infection: microorganisms infecting poorly-treated injury
  • Loss of function: inability to use the affected part of the body

Now, to the main business…

3 Major Steps in handling cuts, wounds, and bleeding, are:

  • Stop the bleeding
  • Protect the wound
  • Get medical care

As usual, to get details, download audio podcast above

#1: STOP THE BLEEDING

This is the first and most important step in handling cuts and wounds. Stop the bleeding. There are 2 things you have to do to help stop bleeding: use pressure and use gravity.

Apply direct pressure: Apply direct pressure on the wound or bleeding site. It is advisable to use something clean or hygienic (if available). You could use a clean, thick cloth; or cotton wool; or sanitary pad. Press directly on the wound, firmly… and hold it there! This stops most types of bleeding. You may have to hold it there for several minutes (sometimes, more than 10 minutes). If you get tired , you could tie the material you are using to apply pressure in order to keep it there. If it gets soaked, don’t remove the soaked material; simply add another on top of it and continue pressing.

Use gravity: Raise the wounded part above the chest level in order to “drain” blood from the affected part and thereby reduce bleeding. If it is the hand (or upper limbs), simply raise it above the head. If it is the legs (or lower limbs). Let the person lie down, and then, raise the affected leg.

As usual, to get details, download audio podcast above

#2: PROTECT THE WOUND

Wash your hands: first, quickly wash your hands with water and medicated soap,like Dettol (if available).

Wash the wound: or flush it under a running tap. This is to remove any dirt or contaminant that would make infection easy. Any water will do, however, lukewarm water is preferable. Even though sometimes discouraged, a mild soap could be used to wash the wound. Using a strong soap (which contains harsh chemicals) could damage the flesh. If you are not sure, simple use only water. And if there’s a flap of skin, raise it and flush or wash.

For those with good first aid box, you could then rub an antibiotic cream on the wound. This will further prevent infection.

If you have a clean bandage, lightly wrap the wound with the bandage (especially wounds that could be easily contaminated again with dirt say wound s on the feet or hands

Do not use:

  • Kerosene
  • Sand (or dust or dirt)
  • Saliva
  • Tourniquet (to tie and prevent bleeding; except, of course, if you are well-trained to do this)

If after doing all these you are confident you have done justice to the wound, you could watch the wound heal over the next few days. However, I advise and recommend that you move on to the next step!

As usual, to get details, download audio podcast above

#3: GET MEDICAL CARE (and attention)

It is important to see a medical person especially for:

  • Severe (large and deep) wounds
  • Profuse, prolonged bleeding (more than 10 minutes)
  • Human, dog or snake bites wounds
  • Cuts and wound from rusty and obviously-contaminated objects like nails and used injection needles
  • Loss of function (or inability to use the affected part)

The medical person would most likely:

  • Assess and see if person needs further attention
  • Give injection to prevent tetanus – a very deadly medical condition
  • Give antibiotics drugs to prevent infections
  • Give analgesic drugs to reduce pains
  • Offer any other care that his or her professional eye sees and which he consider as important.

MORE:

Download (above) and listen to get details on all we have said on how to handle cuts, wounds, and bleeding…and more.

Send me ALL your questions, and I will answer them. Also, let me know about your suggestions and feedback.

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Dr. 'Malik Haruna King is a practicing Nigerian Medical Doctor and Sex Therapist. He helps people with sensitive health issues find answers to questions they are too ashamed to ask!