What You Should Know About Open Wounds

An open wound is an injury an external or internal break in body tissue often involving the skin. Nearly everyone experiences an open wound at some point in their lives. Luckily most open wounds are minor and can be treated at home.

The most common causes of open wounds include falls, accidents with sharp objects or tools, and car accidents. In the case of a serious accident, you must call 9-1-1 or seek out immediate medical attention, especially if it involves a lot of bleeding or if the bleeding seems to last for more than 20 minutes.

In order to better understand open wounds, you need to understand the various types that you may experience.


As abrasion occurs when the skin rubs or scrapes against a rough or a hard surface. For example, road rash is an example of an abrasion that often occurs after a motorcycle accident. There is typically not a lot of bleeding, but the wound will still require cleaning in order to avoid infection.


An avulsion is a partial or complete tearing away of skin and tissue. Avulsions typically occur during violent accidents such as a body-crushing accidents, explosions, and gunshots. These wounds tend to bleed heavily and rapidly.


A sharp object, such as a shard of glass, knife, or razor blade, causes an incision. Incisions tend to bleed a lot and quire quickly as well. A particularly deep incision can damage tendons, ligaments, and muscles.


A laceration is a deep cut or tearing of the skin. Accidents with tools, knives, and machinery are frequent causes of lacerations. The bleeding is rapid and extensive.


A puncture is a small hole often caused by a long and pointy object, such as a nail, needle, or ice pick. Sometimes a bullet can also cause a puncture wound. Punctures may not bleed this much, but these wounds may be deep enough to damage internal organs. If you have a puncture wound, even just a small one, visit your doctor to get a tetanus booster shot and prevent infection.

What Should You Do If You Have An Open Wound?

Minor wounds can easily be treated at home. First, you need to wash and disinfect the wound to remove all dirt and debris. Use direct pressure and elevation in order to control the bleeding and swelling. When wrapping the wound, always make sure to use a sterile dressing or bandage. Though if the wound is minor enough, a bandage might not be necessary. You will need to keep the wound clean and dry for five days and depending on the wound you may need to rest up a bit in order to recover properly.

When Do You Need To See A Doctor?

Although you can treat certain wounds at home, you should see a doctor if:

  • an open wound is deeper than ½ inch

  • the bleeding lasts longer than 20 minutes

  • the bleeding does not stop with direct pressure

  • the bleeding is a result of a serious accident

What Medical Treatments Can You Expect?

Your doctor may use several different techniques in order to treat your open wound. After cleaning and possibly numbing the area with anesthetic, your doctor may close the wound using skin glue, sutures, or stitches. You may also receive a tetanus booster shot if you have a puncture wound.

There can be some complications for an open wound due to the risk of infection. If you see signs such as continuous bleeding, green, yellow or brown pus, a foul odor, or an increase in redness, pain, swelling, or drainage, then you need to visit a doctor immediately to ensure it is healing properly.