Minor cuts and scrapes are a part of every summer and for some people the inconvenience and expense of seeking medical care may outweigh health concerns about the injury itself.
“It often isn’t easy for the average person to judge the severity of a bite, minor burn or cut so people tend to wait to seek treatment. Minor scrapes can be treated with supplies from a well-stocked first aid kit, but major injuries or infections need to be seen by a health care professional before they have time to develop into something more severe,” said Dr. Scott Covington, a regional medical director with National Healing Corporation, who trains and advises physicians on the latest therapies for chronic wounds.
The local experts at My ER Doctors, offer the following guidance on when to seek medical treatment.
- Sunburns can be treated with over-the-counter remedies, yet can be associated with shock, heat exhaustion and dehydration which need professional attention. Symptoms indicating a serious reaction can include severe painful blisters, nausea, fever, chills, extreme thirst, rapid breathing, faintness and dizziness.
- Deep puncture wounds made by nails and knives are especially susceptible to tetanus bacteria commonly found in soil. All wounds should be cleaned immediately. Adults who have not had a tetanus-diphtheria shot in 10 years or children who have not been vaccinated should seek professional attention and receive the vaccine.
- People with certain medical conditions such as diabetes and vascular disease as well as the elderly and those who have had radiation therapy should closely monitor all wounds for signs of infection or failure to heal, especially those on the lower extremities.
- Seek medical treatment if a burn or wound shows signs of infection including increased pain at the wound site, redness or swelling spreading away from the wound, a foul wound odor, change in color or amount of drainage from the wound, or if you experience fever, chills, nausea or vomiting.
- Bites from unknown or wild animals require immediate medical attention. Also seek treatment if the bite is deep or large, on the face, neck or hands or if there is swelling, redness, pain or infection draining from the wound. Animal bites also pose a tetanus threat to those who have not been vaccinated.
- Seek emergency assistance for insect bites if you are experiencing trouble breathing, facial swelling or turning blue, weakness or tightening of the throat. Emergency rooms and wound healing centers equipped with hyperbaric oxygen chambers are needed to treat some serious spider bites, like those of the brown recluse spider.