First Aid For Minor Open Wounds
The human body’s soft tissues include fat, muscles and two layers of skin that protect all underlying body structures. An open wound means there is damage to the skin, which can cause bleeding and infection.
Before giving care, wash your hands thoroughly or use gloves if available. Do not breathe or cough over the wound. In the case of minor wounds where there is only surface damage and little bleeding, wash the wound with soap and water.
Carefully rinse away any loose materials on the skin’s surface. Disinfecting the area with an antibiotic ointment will help prevent infection and speed the healing process. Infection is always a concern when an injury breaks the skin. For workplaces avoid using any medicated ointments in case the casualty has an allergy to it.
After cleaning the wound, apply sterile dressings. For smaller wounds, use a simple adhesive bandage that can come in different shapes and sizes. For larger wounds, use square sterile gauze pads and roller bandages.
Wash the wound with soap and water. Rinse the wound thoroughly with clean water.
For smaller minor wounds, use a simple adhesive bandage after washing the wound with soap and water. For larger soft tissue injuries, use square sterile gauze pads and roller bandages to secure the dressing in place. Watch the area for infection.
Minor open wounds can become serious if there is:
- Heavy bleeding
- Pain with movement of the body part
- Deep damage to the body tissue
Infections are caused by germs such as bacteria or viruses that enter the body and affect one or more organs. Germs usually enter the body through a natural orifice, such as the nose or mouth. They can also enter the body through a break in the skin. This is why a soft tissue injury that breaks the skin is especially susceptible to infection and why we must always practice good hygiene around open wounds. Germs can enter the body through a break in the skin.
Signs and Symptoms of Infection:
- Pus discharge
- Pulsating pain (throbbing)
- The area becomes warm, red and swollen
- First Aid for Infection
Keep area clean! Apply a warm, wet compress. Apply an antibiotic ointment recommended by a pharmacist. For workplaces, avoid using any medicated ointments in case the casualty has an allergy to it.
Seek medical attention if the infection looks serious. A doctor may prescribe appropriate antibiotics.
Tetanus is a potentially fatal disease that may result if wounds are not thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. A deeper wound that is the result of an animal bite or that occurs in unhygienic surroundings should be referred to medical help. Serious infections may cause the person to develop a fever. There may also be red streaks under the skin progressing from the wound. If this is the case, seek medical attention immediately.
When do we need stitches?
Stitches are usually needed when there is a complete separation of both skin layers. This is when the edges of the skin do not fall together and the wound is larger than 1–2 centimeters. If this is the case stitches are needed to close the wound.
If you anticipate a delay in getting the person to the hospital, use “butterfly” adhesive strips to help keep the skin flaps together. Apply dressings over top and bandage as normal.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for adults in Canada. It develops as cholesterol and other cellular debris gradually builds up inside the blood vessels. This condition is called atherosclerosis, which is the narrowing of the arteries caused by the build-up of debris. As the blood vessels become narrower, the amount of blood going through the vessels becomes limited. The blood vessels responsible for oxygenating the heart itself are called the coronary arteries and disease to these blood vessels is called Coronary Artery Disease (CAD). CAD can lead to angina and heart attacks, which is discussed later in this chapter.
Blood pressure is the pressure of the blood against the inside walls of the blood vessels. Blood pressure can go up (high) or down (low). If someone experiences stress, his or her blood pressure can go up. If someone is more relaxed, his or her blood pressure goes down. In some people, blood pressure stays high. This constant state of high blood pressure is called hypertension. Over time, hypertension can damage the blood vessels causing them to lose their elasticity and become thick. It can also cause the heart to enlarge. Hypertension can cause serious problems that can result in heart attacks and strokes. High blood pressure can be controlled by losing weight, changing your diet and taking medications when prescribed. Blood pressure is measured at its highest and lowest points. Blood pressure is at its highest when the heart contracts to pump blood. This is called systolic pressure. When the heart is atrest between beats, the pressure falls and is called the diastolic pressure. A person’s blood pressure is expressed as these two values – the systolic “over” the diastolic. For example, normal blood pressure is considered to be 120/80 or 120 (systolic) over 80 (diastolic). It is important to “know your numbers” when it comes to high blood pressure. Blood pressure that is consistently more than 140/90 is considered high, but 130/80 is considered high if the person has diabetes.
Controlling risk factors can dramatically reduce cardiovascular disease. This usually means a change in lifestyle. A risk factor is an act or characteristic that increases the possibility of developing cardiovascular disease. Take the time to look at your own lifestyle and try to make positive changes.
Controllable Risk Factors
According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, more than 47,000 Canadians will die prematurely each year due to smoking, and almost 8,000 non-smokers die each year from exposure to second-hand smoke. Smoking contributes to the build-up of plaque in the arteries, increases the risk of blood clots, reduces the oxygen in the blood, increases blood pressure and makes the heart work harder. Smoking also nearly doubles the risk of ischemic stroke.
Smoking is the number one cause of preventable death.
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
Hypertension affects one in five Canadians. Because there are no symptoms, many people who have high blood pressure don’t even know they have it. That is why it is called the “silent killer”. Extreme hypertension can cause a blood vessel in the brain to rupture resulting in a stroke.
Excessive Alcohol Consumption
Some evidence suggests that moderate amounts of alcohol, particularly red wine, can be good for your heart. But excessive alcohol consumption can increase blood pressure and contribute to the development of heart disease and stroke. Limit your alcohol intake to 1-2 drinks per day to a weekly maximum of 9 for women and 14 for men.
Diabetes increases the risk of high blood pressure, atherosclerosis,
coronary artery disease and stroke, particularly if blood sugar levels are poorly controlled. Uncontrolled diabetes can cause damage to the blood vessels, which can result in circulation problems.
High Blood Cholesterol
Cholesterol is one of the fats in your blood. High cholesterol can lead to a build-up of debris in the artery walls, causing atherosclerosis. There are two main types of cholesterol: Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and High-density lipoprotein (HDL). LDL is often called the “bad cholesterol” because high levels in the blood cause the build-up of plaque in the arteries. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is called the “good cholesterol” because it helps carry LDL-cholesterol away from the artery walls.
Those living with high levels of stress may have higher blood cholesterol, increased blood pressure or be at greater risk of developing atherosclerosis. High levels of stress can lead certain people to make unhealthy lifestyle choices such as overeating, smoking or drinking too much alcohol. Unhealthy lifestyle choices can increase the risk of developing heart disease and stroke.
Almost 60% of Canadian adults are either overweight or obese. By maintaining a healthy weight, you can considerably decrease your risk of heart disease and stroke and manage other conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol. You can maintain a healthy weight by eating a variety of healthy foods and becoming physically active.
Lack of Exercise
People who are not physically active are twice as likely to develop heart disease and stroke. Being physically active is a good way to maintain a healthy weight, reduce high blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, manage stress and cut your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Uncontrollable Risk Factors
The risk of developing heart disease increases as a person gets older. Although a stroke can happen to someone at any age, the majority of strokes happen to people who are over the age of 65.
The risk of heart disease increases if immediate family members (parents, siblings or children) developed heart disease before the age of 55 or, in the case of females, before menopause. The risk of stroke increases if immediate family members had a stroke before the age of 65.
Gender and Menopause
Men over the age of 55 are at greater risk of heart disease. A woman’s risk of heart disease and stroke increases when they reach menopause. This is due to decreasing amounts of the hormone estrogen, which helps to protect the heart. Reduced estrogen levels may also increase body fat above the waist, have harmful effects on the way blood clots, and affect the way the body handles sugar, a precursor condition to diabetes. A menopausal woman may also show a tendency toward higher blood pressure.
Race or Ethnic Background
First Nations people and those of African or South Asian descent are more likely to have high blood pressure and diabetes and are therefore at greater risk of heart disease and stroke than the general population.