Injuries that result in bleeding can happen in many ways and you might have heard them referred to in many different ways. Learn the four most common types of injuries and how to best treat them.
Abrasions are usually the result of a rub or scrape on a rough surface, like skinning your knee on the playground or scratching your elbow on a brick wall. Sometimes people call abrasions strawberries or raspberries. Typically, an abrasion will not bleed heavily, but the area should be thoroughly cleaned and washed with soap and water to avoid infection. An abrasion may require a bandage or dressing in extreme cases, but minor abrasions should heal on their own after cleaning.
Lacerations are cuts, slices, or tears in the skin. Lacerations are often caused by sharp objects like knives or broken glass. Bleeding may occur quickly in the cases of deep lacerations, so it is important to stop the bleeding by covering the wound and applying pressure. If bleeding is severe or won't stop, you may need to proceed to an emergency room or call 911 for additional medical attention.
Avulsions are severe injuries that can cause uncontrolled, life-threatening bleeding. This type of injury typically occurs when skin or a body part is partially or completely torn away. These injuries often result from serious trauma, such as car or motorcycle accidents, explosions, or gunshots. In avulsions, bleeding will occur instantly and extensively, so you should call 911 immediately and attempt to control the bleeding as quickly as possible. For some avulsions, you may need to apply a tourniquet to stop the bleeding. If a body part is severed, it should be brought to the hospital for possible reattachment. Wrap the body part in a clean cloth and pack it in ice, if possible.
If you encounter someone experiencing uncontrolled bleeding, first make sure you are safe. If you are safe, it's important to remember that any attempt to control bleeding is better than no intervention.
Next, follow the ABCs of Bleeding:
A - Alert - Call 911
B - Bleeding - Find the source of bleeding. Look on the arms, legs, neck, groin, and abdomen areas for bleeding.
C - Compress – Once you find the source of bleeding, apply pressure. You can use a piece of clothing, or anything else available that can help stop bleeding. Cover the wound and apply pressure by pushing directly with both hands. You can also pack the wound with gauze or a clean cloth, and then continue to hold pressure with both hands. If bleeding does not slow or stop, and the injury is located on an arm or leg, a tourniquet can be applied high and tight on the limb to stop the bleeding. Keep holding pressure on the injury until help arrives.
If you are at the scene of an accident and see someone with substantial bleeding, call 911 right away. It is important to get emergency responders to the scene as soon as possible.
For minor wounds, such as abrasions and shallow lacerations, the treatment you can provide at home is often adequate.