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How to know if a wound is serious or not

Updated on August 1, 2012

A wound

A wound becomes visible in the skin of the body when the integrity of any tissue is compromised, such as when the skin burns, or tears apart, muscle breaks, and bone fractures. A wound may be caused by an invading object such as the bullet of a gun, a knife; an accident, as in a car accident, or a fall; an infectious disease, such as an abscess, etc.

There are many types of wounds, and they may be classified as chronic, such as an ulcer, or acute, such as an animal bite or gunshot. Wounds may also be referred to as open, as when the skin has been torn apart and the under skin tissue is exposed, or closed, in which the skin has not been torn apart, but damage to under skin structures has occurred, such as a bruised rib.

The general symptoms

The general symptoms of a wound are localized pain and bleeding. Specific symptoms may include abrasions, which usually appear in the form of lines of scraped skin with tiny spots of bleeding and avulsions, which are characterized by rapid bleeding and a noticeable absence of tissue.

The damage in a wound may be apparent like in a cut, or not too apparent like in a bruise. To tell whether a wound is serious or not it is necessary to make a visual examination to determine the magnitude of the damage done to the tissue.


All open wounds are exposed to outside contamination, therefore they´re potential residence for all kinds of bacteria, that´s why it is very important to remove all the debris  around it and make sure that a regrowth of bacteria has been discarded.


Sometimes a wound may be treated at home by simply applying direct pressure with a clean cloth over the wound and pressing the palm of your hand over the area, then cleaning and dressing the wound to prevent infection, however, additional medical attention may be required if the effects of the wound have damaged nearby organs.

Medical attention might be needed

If the bleeding from an arm or leg is so extreme, the use of a tourniquet may be required to limit further blood loss. However, while the tourniquet helps keeping the loss of blood to a minimum, it also deprives the limb tissues of oxygen. As a result the limb may die.

Wounds that penetrate deep into the muscle beneath the skin should be treated by a doctor, as they would require some stitches to keep them closed during healing. Some wounds which do not extend to the muscle may only require the use of bandages to keep them closed during healing.

Wounds in the face and neck require to be examined by a doctor to minimize scarring, as well as wounds made to the hands and wrists, as tendon and nerves could have been damaged. Wounds made by punctured objects require tetanus shot to prevent infection, and animal bites should always be examined by a doctor for possible rabies infection.

Medical attention might be needed when the wound presents swelling, redness throbbing pain, localized warmth fever, pus either in the wound or draining from it. If you suspect any one of these symptoms, a visit to your doctor would be the most indicated thing to do.

When the body has been damaged internally, specialized test, such as an ultrasound(imaging inside the body via sound waves) might be made to determine the extent of the wound. This technique would also prevent invasive surgery for diagnosis.

When determining the seriousness of a wound it is advisable to always consult a physician, so as to get the best reliable diagnosis of the damage done and the proper treatment.


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