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How to Treat the 5 Different Types of Wounds


Suffering a wound in the wild can be a death sentence.

Learning how to identify, as well as treat, the different wound types can buy you valuable time until you’re able to receive proper medical treatment.

In the wild, wounds that would otherwise be minor can turn nasty – and fast! Unlike in your kitchen, wounds suffered in the wild must contend with the elements, such as temperature, bacteria, sun exposure, rain, sand, and even animals.

But, before we tell you how to successfully treat wounds, let’s identify the different types of wounds…

5 Types Of Wounds

No matter the cause, all wounds fall into 5 different classifications:

#1 Incision

Happens when a clean, sharp object, like a knife, a piece of glass, or a razor’s edge separates tissue. These types of wounds bleed a lot and quickly!

#2 Laceration

Laceration wounds can are identified by their irregular tear-like edges brought upon by blunt trauma. These wounds are often seen in accidents involving knife, tools, and machinery. The bleeding is rapid and extensive.

#3 Abrasion

Abrasions can occur when skin is scraped away against hard or rough surfaces. These types of wounds don’t usually display too much bleeding.

#4 Avulsion

An avulsion is a particular unpleasant wound that can result from car accidents, gunshots, and explosions where there is partial or complete tearing away of skin and tissue. Needless to say, these types of wounds bleed heavily and expeditiously.

#5 Puncture

Puncture wounds are holes in tissue created by boring, punching, or piercing from long, pointy objects. These can occur from stepping on a nail, poked with a needle, or pierced by a pick. While puncture wounds might not always bleed much, and thus look minor at first sight, they can damage internal organs if deep enough.

Treating Wounds

If worse comes to worse, and you absolutely must treat open wounds – on you or someone else – understand these vital points before jumping in:

  • First, ensure that the scene is safe for you to proceed with wound treatment.
  • Treat all human blood and human body fluids as if they were known to be infectious for HIV, HBV, and other bloodborne pathogens.
  • If treating others, ask the patient about their medical history and examine the patient or additional injuries before proceeding.

The treatment for any of the above-mentioned wounds, pretty much follows the same protocol, regardless of type:

  1. Immediately cut any clothing from the wound and remove any jewelry or rings from the injured body part.
  2. Apply direct pressure to any bleeding wound, to control hemorrhage.
  3. Examine the wound for contamination, loose or floppy tissues, and foreign bodies.
  4. Clean the wound and surrounding area with sterile water or antibiotic solution (if available). Remove any foreign bodies from the wound. If loose tissue is present as a result of the injury, replace skin flap before dressing.
  5. Wounds that are contaminated should not be covered. The same goes for bites and puncture wounds. This can lead to infection in unsterile environments.
  6. Clip hair close to the wound, if necessary. Shaving of hair is not necessary and may increase the chance of wound infection.
  7. Cover wounds with dry dressing (e.g., gauze pads) or t-shirt.

*Note: It’s been suggested by some experts that puncture wounds involving objects like arrows, large sticks, or even large knives, should be stabilized and left in the wound rather than removed. The theory is that without the proper tools, removing these objects will cause more even more tissue damage. 

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Photo by Cpl. Alec Kleinsmith licensed under Creative Commons 2.0.