June 1, 2017

You probably don’t want to go to the doctor for an injury you can manage on your own. When it’s just a cut or scrape, it’s tempting to treat it at home and hope for the best. However, a wound that’s manageable today can easily become infected and dangerous tomorrow.

We want to help you get the right treatment from the beginning. Here are three situations where you need to see a doctor for a wound.

Lacerations

You can clean and bandage minor cuts, including paper cuts, at home. If your wound fits any of the below criteria, you might need stitches and should see one of our doctors for an evaluation:

  • The cut is deeper than a quarter-inch in length
  • The cut came from a dirty or rusty object
  • Muscle, fat or bone is visible
  • The cut is over a joint
  • The cut is in an area that causes cosmetic concerns, such as your face
  • The cut won’t stop bleeding, even after applying pressure for 15 minutes

If you’ve suffered a laceration and are uncertain whether you need care, call your primary care physician to discuss your concerns.

Possible Infection

Any wound, accidental or surgical, is at risk of becoming infected. If you don’t get proper treatment for a wound infection, you can suffer more complications, surgery or even death.
If you see any of the following signs of infection in your wound, call your doctor immediately:

  • Redness in or around the wound
  • Fever and/or chills
  • Pus or drainage
  • Foul smell from the wound
  • Warm or hot feeling at the wound
  • Pain when touching the wound

Some people are at a higher risk of developing a wound infection. If any of the following apply to you, you may be at a higher risk:

    • Poorly controlled diabetes
    • Problems with your immune system
    • Being overweight or obese
    • Being a smoker
    • Taking corticosteroids such as prednisone
    • Having surgery that lasts longer than 2 hours

Burns

Burns range from minor medical problems to life-threatening emergencies. Electricity, chemicals and fire can cause burns.

If you have a burn, you need to seek immediate attention if:

  • It covers your hands, feet, face, groin, buttocks or a major joint
  • It involves several layers of skin
  • Chemicals or electricity caused it
  • It causes difficulty breathing

If you have a minor burn, call your doctor for an appointment if you have:

  • Large blisters
  • Signs of infection
  • A burn or blister that doesn’t heal within two weeks
  • Significant scarring

Some wounds are serious and need immediate attention. Other wounds can receive care at home. If you’re in doubt, give your primary care physician a call today. They can help you create a treatment plan for your wound that will have you healing in no time.

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