Cuts, Scrapes (Abrasions), and Puncture Wounds

  • Medical Author:
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

First Aid Sprains & Strains Slideshow

Quick GuideFirst Aid: Properly Caring for Wounds

First Aid: Properly Caring for Wounds

Who should seek medical care for a cut?

If you cannot control the bleeding from a cut or scrape (abrasion), seek medical attention. Any cut that goes beyond the top layer of skin or is deep enough to see into might need stitches (sutures), and should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible. Generally, the sooner the wound is sutured, the lower the risk of infection. Ideally, wounds should be repaired within six hours of the injury.

People with suppressed immune systems (including people with diabetes, cancer patients receiving chemotherapy, people who take steroid medications, such as prednisone, patients on dialysis, or people with HIV) are more likely to develop a wound infection and should be seen by a doctor. People who are on blood thinning medication and cannot control the bleeding should be seen by a doctor immediately.

Any wound that shows signs of infection should be seen by a doctor.

What are the signs and symptoms of a wound infection?

If the wound begins to drain yellow or greenish fluid (pus), or if the skin around the wound becomes red, warm, swollen, or increasingly painful; a wound infection may be present and medical care should be sought. Any red streaking of the skin around the wound may indicate an infection in the system that drains fluid from the tissues, called the lymph system. This infection (lymphangitis) can be serious, especially if it is accompanied by a fever. Prompt medical care should be sought if streaking redness from a wound is noticed.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/10/2015

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