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Wound being covered with gauze and tape

Are Wounds Medical Emergencies?

Wounds are a class of injury to your body which breaks the skin or other tissues. Ranging from scrapes to punctures, wounds are not typically serious or life-threatening. However, certain emergency situations require wounds to be treated right away.

Knowing the signs that your wound needs emergency care, as well as the proper treatment for your wound, is the best way to quickly get you on the road to recovery.

When Should I Go to the Emergency Room?

After an injury, our bodies take plenty of time to heal themselves — so it’s not uncommon that a wound would take time to heal. Most scrapes take around 3 to 7 days to heal, while a larger cut or scrape may take up to 10 to 12 days to fully heal.

Bleeding typically occurs after a wound and should resolve in a few minutes. Additionally, you may notice the formation of a scab or minor swelling around the wound. This should resolve in 2-5 days, as your body protects you from infection. Lastly, after tissues grow back into the injured area, you may form a scar. This is normal and may take anywhere up to two years. Scars can fade as they age, or may disappear altogether.

All of these signs are common after tissue injury and are usually no cause for concern. However, that doesn’t mean your wound cannot turn into a medical emergency.

Here are a few signs that you should seek emergency medical attention:

  • There is an object stuck in the wound.

  • The wound is large and very deep.

  • You cannot stop the bleeding.

  • You cannot clean the wound.

  • Your wound was the result of an animal attack or bite.

If your wound resulted from coming in contact with something rusty, you’ll also need to get a tetanus shot. Similarly, if you came in contact with a rabid animal, it’s important to also receive the rabies vaccine.

Surgery, stitches, and sutures can also cause wounds. Following your surgery, be sure to keep your wound area clean to prevent infection, and follow up with your doctor to ensure the incision area looks healthy.

Warning Signs of An Infected Wound

Recognizing the most common signs of wound infection is will allow you to quickly seek medical attention and treatment for your wound.

The most common signs of infection include:

  • You experience fever, shortness of breath, or other unusual symptoms.

  • You have greenish/yellowish pus-forming over the wound.

  • Redness around the wound after about a week.

  • The skin around the wound feels hot.

  • You experience loss of movement near the injury.

  • The wound does not heal and you are still experiencing pain.

Seeking Medical Attention

If you believe your wound is serious, don’t hesitate to call 911. Our medical professionals at Advance ER are ready to take care of your wound. Even if your wound doesn’t require a trip to the emergency room, Advance ER offers urgent care services to provide you with treatment.