Everyone has experienced a minor injury at some point. Whether it’s rolling your ankle while hiking or scraping your knee on the sidewalk, we’ve all had minor injuries that are painful but don’t necessarily require medical attention. But at what point is it time to seek out a doctor?
First, you should do everything you can for yourself. In most cases, you won’t need additional assistance for a scrape, burn, or cut. However, sometimes you will.
Below are some basic treatments, as well as when it may be time to get more help.
Clean a Wound with Mild Soap and Water
It’s important to clean the wound with mild soap and warm water. Don’t use alcohol or hydrogen peroxide; these will degrade the skin, leaving it open to infection. You can gently wash with a mild antibacterial soap if needed, but don’t scrub or irritate the area further. The goal is just to get rid of dirt and debris from your minor injury so that it can heal faster.
Once the wound has been cleaned, hydrogen peroxide or alcohol can be applied.
Apply Pressure to Wounds Until Bleeding Stops
When you have a bleeding wound, the first thing to do is apply pressure. Press as hard as you can on the wound and keep doing so until the bleeding stops. If you have a bleeding wound that is not severe, you can stop the bleeding with pressure. If this doesn’t work, seek medical attention immediately as it could be a sign of a more serious issue.
Apply Ice or Compress to Injury
If you have an ice pack, you can use it to reduce swelling and pain. Use a cloth to cover the ice pack or compress, which will help protect your skin from frostbite.
If you don’t have an ice pack, wrap a bag of frozen vegetables (such as peas) in a towel and apply to your injury. The cold temperature will act as an anesthetic. Do not apply directly onto your skin without protection because this could cause frostbite and other issues.
If the swelling doesn’t go down, or if the pain continues to get worse, it could be a sign of a broken bone, which needs to be seen by a physician.
Monitor the Condition
While you’re waiting for the injury to heal, it’s important to keep track of how it is feeling. See a doctor as soon as possible if your pain doesn’t go away or gets worse. If the area around the injury becomes black or blue, if you have trouble breathing, feel dizzy, faint, or experience chest pains when breathing deeply or coughing, seek medical attention immediately.
Be Cautious of Adrenaline
Sometimes a ‘minor injury’ may not be as minor as you may think if it occurred during a high-stress moment. For example, following a car accident, your adrenaline may be running so high that you won’t notice anything that isn’t a serious issue.
When this happens, make an effort to calm down and assess the situation. The damage caused by a minor injury can often turn into a bigger problem if untreated. By taking a moment to assess the situation and going to the doctor, you can save money and pain down the road.
Going back to the car accident example, should injuries prolong and become an issue to the point of needing medical compensation, an attorney representing you will have a lot more success if you have medical bills and documented proof.
Minor injuries are common, but they don’t have to be a big deal. The key is to take good care of yourself and keep track of the condition, especially if it doesn’t go away. If you’re unsure of what to do, consult with your doctor or other healthcare provider.