Stay healthy this summer with easy cuts and bumps first aid

contributing columnistJuly 26, 2014 

When the weather heats up, we become more active — engaging in fun activities outdoors.

With this increased activity comes an increase in opportunities for injury, ranging from minor cuts and scrapes to serious injuries requiring immediate medical attention.

There are a few precautions that can help ensure that you or your child's minor injury doesn't turn into something more serious.

For a minor laceration, like a cut or a scrape, you should focus on cleaning the wound immediately. Use rubbing alcohol to swipe the area clean and cover it with Band-Aid or gauze bandage. Wash contaminated wounds with saline water.

If the cut hasn't improved, or begins to show redness or inflammation within 24-48 hours, it could be a sign of infection. Certain infections, like staph, can have serious consequences if left untreated, so seek medical treatment as soon as you see signs or symptoms of infection. If you're unsure about the timing of your last tetanus booster, be sure to get that taken care of as soon as you receive an injury.

Depending on how severe the infection is, your physician may perform a culture to determine what kind of bacteria is causing the infection. In turn, this will tell the physician what kind of antibiotic to prescribe to guarantee quick and effective treatment.

Not all lacerations should be treated at home. For cuts that bleed excessively and the bleeding cannot be stopped within a reasonable time frame — or where the skin has been completely torn off — seek medical attention immediately.

Depending on the type of injury, your physician will be able to properly clean the wound and, if appropriate, administer stitches.

When caring for wounds, especially those with an infection, be sure to use precautions to prevent the spread of disease. Certain bacterial infections like MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) resist antibiotics, are highly contagious and can spread quickly.

When changing dressings, always be sure to wear gloves.

Another important summer safety tip involves open wounds and pools. Individuals with open wounds should not swim in public pools to avoid spreading infection to others.

Cuts and scrapes aren't the only danger of the summer. Bumps, bruises and sprains are also common.

If you have twisted your ankle or foot and experience swelling and pain, but you're still able to put weight on it, it's likely a sprain. Administer ice, prop up the injured leg and rest for the next 24 to 48 hours. Take Tylenol or ibuprofen for pain.

If the swelling doesn't go down in two days, or if you're unable to put weight on your foot, it could be sign of something more serious, like a hairline fracture. When this occurs, seek medical attention.

If you sustain a head injury and experience a severe headache or vision problems, it could be a sign of a more serious injury, and medical attention should be sought immediately.

Dr. Lakshmi Naidu is with KentuckyOne Health Primary Care Associates.

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