I recently took a nice tumble onto the middle of the road, while goofing off with friends one afternoon. While the story leading up to the fall is a bit comical (I fell off a golf cart), the fall itself was quite startling. As I lay in the middle of the street and assessed my wounds, I wondered, “Do I need to go to the ER?”
Fortunately, I escaped with only some cuts and bruises across my body, but I know I was very lucky. When I returned to work, after my fall, I decided to find out from Gavin Parisi, MD of Banner Estrella Medical Center and Banner - University Medical Center Phoenix, when cuts and scrapes require medical attention.
Dr. Parisi told me that many wounds such as scrapes and small cuts are superficial. These wounds can be treated at home by stopping the bleeding with pressure and fully cleaning and bandaging the wound. The primary goal is to prevent infection and minimize scarring.
So how do you know if the wound is more than superficial? According to Dr. Parisi, you should seek medical attention if you experience any of the following:
- A wound that covers a large part of your body
- A wound that causes considerable blood loss
- A wound that penetrates beyond the outer layers of the skin
- A bite (human or animal)
- Bleeding that continues after 10 minutes of applying pressure
- Bleeding that spurts with your pulse
- Debris that cannot be removed with cleaning
- Wounds that produce drainage
- If you lose sensation or movement in your body due to the injury
- If your tetanus shot is not up to date (how do you know if your tetanus shot is up to date? I have no idea when I got one last…)