December 21, 2014
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Seasonal Health

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Cuts and Scrapes

(Wound Care, Abrasions)

The Facts on Cuts and Scrapes

Your skin is your body's largest organ and plays a big role in keeping you healthy. It helps to regulate your body temperature and acts as a barrier to keep body fluids in and bacteria out. The skin also acts as a first-alert system to the world around you by warning of potential problems when you feel heat or pain.

Causes of Cuts and Scrapes

Cuts and scrapes happen when your skin is accidentally broken or worn away. This can be the result of a fall, banging against a hard object, or being cut by something sharp.

We all get cuts sometimes, but some people are more prone to these injuries than others. Children, for instance, almost always have some sort of minor skin damage just from playing. Others more likely to get cuts and scrapes include older people and people who have delicate skin because of certain illnesses or medications.





Symptoms and Complications of Cuts and Scrapes

How can you tell if your cut or scrape is healing properly? If you keep the area clean, the chance of infection is low. Some signs of infection to watch for include:

  • discharge or pus coming from the cut or scrape
  • fever
  • increased pain
  • redness, swelling, or warmth in the affected area

If any of these signs appear, your injury needs a doctor's attention. To stop the infection from spreading, treatment most often consists of an antibiotic cream or ointment (such as mupirocin*, bacitracin, or fucidic acid) or a prescription for oral antibiotics.

Certain people need to take special care if they get cuts or scrapes because their injuries won't heal easily. These include people who:

  • have weakened immune systems (e.g., from chemotherapy medications used to treat cancer)
  • take medications that make the skin dry and fragile (e.g., prednisone)
  • take medications that decrease blood clotting (e.g., warfarin)
  • have diabetes

If you are in any high-risk category, find out what special precautions you should take if you injure yourself.

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