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First Aid Treatment for Open Wound

Almost everyone will experience an open wound at some point in their lives. Fortunately, most of these open wounds are considered minor can be treated at home with appropriate first aid. An open wound is an injury to the body that causes an external or internal break in the body tissue, commonly the skin.

There are three types of bleeding in an open wound in decreasing severity: arterial bleeding, venous bleeding and capillary bleeding. An open wound is not usually serious unless there is severe bleeding, which could indicate that an artery was injured.

Classification of Open Wound

An open wound is classified based on its causes and characteristics. The different classifications of open wound are abrasion, laceration, puncture, incision and avulsion.


  • Causes: a scratch or scrapping or rubbing against rough surfaces
  • Characteristics: wounds are typically wide but shallow with oozing blood and a dirty appearances


  • Causes: blunt-ended instruments, such as rocks, broken glasses, etc.
  • Characteristics: wounds are typically appearing as torn with irregular edges with slight to serious bleeding


  • Causes: penetrated pointing objects with sharp edges, such as knives, daggers, ice picks, nails, etc.
  • Characteristics: wounds are typically narrow but deep with slight to serious bleeding (depending on the organ it punctured)


  • Causes: sharp-bladed instruments, such as blades, razors, etc.
  • Characteristics: wounds are typically deep with a clean appearance and severe bleeding


  • Causes: explosion, mishandling of tools, animal bites, etc.
  • Characteristics: body tissue are forcefully detached from the body

First Aid Treatment for Open Wound

For a minor open wound, usually associated with an abrasion and sometimes a laceration, home care should suffice to treat it. The following first aid treatments are recommended for a minor open wound:

Apply gauze and dressing on an open wound

Apply gauze and dressing + bandage on an open wound

  • Wash the wound the soap and warm water.
  • Apply mild antiseptic on the wound and the immediate surroundings of the wound.
  • Cover the open wound with dressing and bandage.

For a major open wound, which is usually a laceration, puncture, incision or avulsion, always remember the 4 C’s. The 4 C’s can help stop bleeding and avoid infections.

  • Call for emergency medical services.
  • Control the bleeding by applying direct pressure on the open wound. Use a clean absorbent cloth.
  • Cover the open wound with dressing and bandage, once the bleeding has stopped. Do not use absorbent cotton as a dressing.
  • Care for shock, if there is. Shock is a life-threatening condition that leads to organ failure.

The following reminders must always be done to help control the bleeding of an open wound:

  • Thoroughly inspect and cover the wound with a dry dressing to cease the bleeding and avoid further contamination
  • Once bleeding is ceased, splint the affected limb to further control bleeding stabilize the injured part and minimized the pain felt by the casualty. This will also help in the transport of the casualty to the hospital.
  • Elevated the injured part above the casualty’s heart level to reduce severity.
  • If there are amputated parts, wrap these in dry gauze and place it inside a plastic bag. Place it in a container with ice to keep it cool.
  • Do not promote bleeding to “clean the wound.” This is not true. The primary goal is to control the bleeding.

To learn how to properly manage an open wound, enroll in First Aid Courses. This article does not substitute for actual first aid training.

Complications from Open Wound

The primary complication from an open wound is infection, which can hinder wound healing. Watch out for signs of infection and other complications:

  • Signs of infection: increased redness, swelling, pain, foul-smelling pus that is thick green, yellow or brownish in color, fever, lump palpitation in the armpit or groin, etc.
  • Cellulitis (skin infection)
  • Hemorrhage or continuous bleeding
  • Gangrene
  • Shock

An open wound is an injury to the body that leads to an external or internal break in the tissue of the body, commonly the skin.

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