Wounds always hurt, but the degree of pain will vary according to the nature, location, and severity of the injury. Burns are particularly painful, as are many blisters, cuts, and scrapes. While a puncture wound may hurt less, it could potentially be more serious if left untreated.
For any wound, you should take the following steps:
- Take care of the wound immediately, because even a minor wound can get infected if bacteria are allowed to build up in the wound site. If the wound is minor, you should give first aid at home.
- If you get a puncture wound or step on a rusty nail, you should see a doctor immediately, because you may need a tetanus shot. If you don't know whether you're due for a tetanus shot, don't take any chances. Call your doctor. If the puncture wound is from a human or animal bite, seek emergency medical attention. If the cut is deep or has jagged edges, you may need stitches to close the wound.
- Clean the wound with water. Avoid using soap, hydrogen peroxide, or iodine, which can irritate the injury. Hold the wound under running water to remove dirt, and use steriled tweezers to remove remaining debris. If you can't get the wound clean, see a doctor, because the dirt could trigger an infection. If there is a large object embedded in the wound, leave it alone and seek emergency help.
- When the wound is clean, apply antibiotic ointment one to three times a day to prevent infection, and cover it in a sterile bandage. Before reapplying ointment, clean the wound. Stop using the ointment if you develop a rash or other reaction. Change the bandage daily, and use soap to clean the skin around the wound.
- If the injury doesn't stop bleeding on its own, use a clean cloth to apply pressure. Maintain the pressure for 20 minutes while elevating the wounded area, if possible. If bleeding continues after 20 minutes of pressure or spurts out of the wound, seek medical help.
- Watch the wound to make sure it is healing. If the wound does not begin to heal or grows red, warm, and/or inflamed, or the skin around it shows red streaks, seek medical care immediately.
Reducing Wound Pain
If you have a postoperative wound, a serious injury or burn, or a chronic wound, your doctor may recommend medication to relieve pain. Don't suffer in silence. If your wound is painful, or if a wound that wasn't painful now begins to bother you, call your doctor. This could be a sign of infection.
For minor wounds, these simple steps can reduce pain:
- Cover the wound to protect it from further injury.
- Change the bandage daily, and keep the wound clean to prevent infection.
- Take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to ease initial wound pain. If pain lasts for more than a day or two, consult your doctor.
- For a foot or ankle wound, stay off your feet as much as possible to ease pain and encourage healing.
- Be sure to get plenty of sleep and follow a healthy diet to help your body heal.
For minor burns, these simple steps can reduce pain:
- Hold the burn under cool running water, soak in a basin of cool water, or apply cool cloths to the burn.
- If a blister develops, do not break the blister. That raises the risk of infection.
- Cover the burn with antibiotic ointment and a sterile bandage. Change the bandage daily.
- Take ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
- Do not put butter, oil, ice, or ice water on a burn.