Cuts and lacerations alike are a common ailment – ranging from the lowly papercut to deep, severe wounds in the muscles. Cuts are often cleaner, smaller, and less severe than lacerations – which end up jagged, large, and usually immediately concerning. At any level, though, cuts present an immediate danger to the body for opening up otherwise clean tissues to outside factors. Following true to the varying nature of severity, treatment can range from needing some antibiotic ointment and a bandage to immediate surgical care. 

Factors to Compound Cuts or Lacerations

Frequently, the physical action of slicing the body isn’t the most dangerous aspect – it’s the resulting side effects. The presence and severity of the compounding factors will help you determine if medical attention is necessary.

Bleeding

Cuts that gouge deep enough into the surface can nick some blood vessels, causing external bleeding. Blood is the most visceral and immediate indicator of a problem that needs to be addressed, but the emergency room isn’t always necessary. A moment of bleeding is usually all that’s necessary for the clotting response to take place. 

Small scrapes or cuts

Thrombin, an enzyme in your blood, is activated to turn fibrinogen into fibrin – the material that binds with red blood cells to create clots and scabs. The body’s response to small cuts works quickly and effectively, but it never hurts to put a band-aid on to keep it covered.

Large cuts

Bleeding isn’t always as supplemental to your health, however. Large enough cuts will be too massive for the body’s natural responses to work effectively, leading to acute blood loss. As a rule of thumb, if the wound “spurts” with blood, bleeding can’t be stopped after 10 minutes of compression, or if the wound is located at the chest, neck, or other arteries, you need to go to the ER immediately. 

Treatments

Apply pressure with sterile gauze

To contain and treat the bleeding effectively, general advice goes as follows. Immediately cover the wound with gauze or other clean cloth, and apply pressure. If blood soaks through the material, add more layers. It’s not recommended to remove layers, because the blood is still playing a role in containing the damage. Keep the afflicted area above the heart, if possible. 

Applying a tourniquet

Only consider applying a tourniquet if bleeding is on the arms or legs, can’t be stopped with direct pressure, and if someone knows how to apply the treatment. Emergency operators can lead you through the process, if necessary, then proceed directly to Urgent care or ER so they can close the wound.

Foreign substances

The blood and tissue under your skin exist in homeostasis with the surrounding systems – introducing substances of any sort can cause serious problems. Foreign substances can be any number of things that get inside the cut or laceration – dirt, particulate matter, liquids, or a host of disease-causing pathogens. By any means, your number one priority should be keeping a cut or laceration clean. An infection, poisoning, or aggravation of any sort can make the issue multitudes worse. Come into urgent care and we can clean your wound properly and dress it so you can start healing.

Bandages and gauze

When addressing a wound, using only clean or sterile materials is vital. Bandages and gauze wraps are individually double-wrapped in sealed packaging for precisely this reason. If possible, applying an antibiotic ointment (like Neosporin) is advised. Keep the affected area out of direct air exposure as much as possible to reduce the chance of infection from the air.

Puncture wounds

From particularly nasty cuts, tetanus infection can occur. In the case of a deep cut from an unclean surface (most commonly broken glass, rusty nails, and jagged edges), consult your doctor to determine if a tetanus shot is necessary. Immediate vaccination is usually required to prevent the spread and symptoms from happening. 

When a Trip to Urgent Care is Necessary

Small scrapes and cuts can be taken care of at home by just rinsing the wound, patting it dry, and applying an antibiotic and/or a bandaid. For more serious lacerations, a trip to Urgent Care may be needed. It’s time to visit Las Vegas Urgent Care if:

  • The cut will not stop bleeding – medical staff can clean the wound and stitch it up. They will also x-ray if there is a chance of a broken bone.
  • You have a puncture wound – puncture wounds, even small ones, such as a nail going into a foot, are dangerous. They need care from a doctor because they can easily cause tetanus, a horribly painful and usually fatal disease. Make sure you are up-to-date with your tetanus shot. If you are unsure, visit your urgent care. They can get you another, just in case. Experts recommend getting a tetanus shot anyway with a puncture wound.
  • The cut has particles inside it – If the wound has foreign matter like dirt, pebbles, splinters or glass, the staff at Las Vegas Urgent Care can clean the wound, dress it and prescribe an antibiotic if necessary
  • There is redness or swelling around the wound indicating an infection – this indicator means you need to go to the Urgent Care. If you are undergoing any cancer treatments or undergoing immunotherapy. Infections need to be addressed immediately, especially if red streaks are leading from the wound towards your heart. It means the infection is moving and your body isn’t able to fight it off. The doctors at Urgent Care can prescribe antibiotics, whether topical or tablets.
  • Animal bites – cause concern because of the possibility of tetanus from a puncture wound or the threat of rabies. Rabies is a deadly disease that is fatal to animals and humans and is transmitted by bites from affected animals. A series of rabies shots must be given as soon as possible after the bite or when in close proximity to a bat.

When to Visit the ER

As mentioned previously, many factors warrant a visit to the emergency room. In summation, medical intervention is warranted if:

  • Bleeding persists for more than 10 minutes, despite compression attempts
  • Blood loss is significant to the point of delirium, fainting, or pale skin.
  • Blood “spurts” from the wound, indicating a severed artery
  • The “edges” of the injury are too wide to close manually
  • The wound was exposed to dirt, particulate matter, foreign liquids, or potential disease
  • If important structures under the skin were damaged, like tendons, muscles, or organs
  • If tetanus or rabies is a concern

If a wound has been closed but presents signs of infection in the hours or days past, seek medical advice immediately.

Las Vegas Urgent Care Can Close Your Cut

Las Vegas Urgent Care provides all the facilities and staff to help you with all of your medical needs. Our team has been treating the people of Las Vegas for years – and we know how to best care for your specific case. If you need medical help now, call our offices or call an ambulance as soon as possible, and we can get the situation under control.