Wounds occur when the skin is broken or damaged because of injury. Causes of injury may be the result of mechanical, chemical, electrical, thermal, or nuclear sources. The skin can be damaged in a variety of ways depending upon the mechanism of injury.
- Inflammation is the skin’s initial response to injury.
- Superficial (on the surface) wounds and abrasions leave the deeper skin layers in tact. These types of wounds are usually caused by friction rubbing against an abrasive surface.
- Deep abrasions (cuts or lacerations) go through all the layers of the skin and into underlying tissue like muscle or bone.
- Puncture wounds are usually caused by a sharp pointed object entering the skin. Examples of puncture wounds include a needle stick, stepping on a nail, or a stab wound with a knife.
- Human and animal bites can be classified as puncture wounds, abrasions, or a combination of both.
- Pressure sores (bed sores) can develop due to lack of blood supply to the skin caused by chronic pressure on an area of the skin (for example, a person who is bedridden, sits for long hours in a wheelchair, or a cast pressing on the skin). Individuals with diabetes, circulation (peripheral vascular disease), or malnutrition are at an increased risk of pressure sores.
Proper wound care is necessary to prevent infection, assure there are no other associated injuries, and to promote healing of the skin. An additional goal, if possible, is to have a good cosmetic result after the wound has completely healed.