Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Symptoms Evaluation Treatment drugs questions for doctor specialist Home Care pain in adults pain in children skin wound warning signs Underlying Cause Types Anatomy

Upper Limb Injury Skin Wound

Minor cuts, abrasions and puncture wounds not requiring medical care can be treated at home. Initial care for an arm injury includes:

  • Control bleeding with direct pressure.
    • Use a gauze or clean cloth directly on the wound.
    • Maintain the pressure, constantly, for at least 10 minutes.
  • Clean the wound with mild soap and water. Running water can help remove dirt.
  • You may gently dab the wound with hydrogen peroxide to remove clotted blood or debris. Do not scrub or re-injure the wound.
  • Be sure there is no dirt or other foreign material left in the wound.
  • A butterfly bandage can be used to close very small, clean cuts.
  • Apply an antibiotic ointment and a dry dressing.
  • Cover the wound with gauze or elastic bandage. Wounds to the face may be left uncovered.
  • Keep the wound clean and dry.
  • Protect and rest the injured area.
  • Elevate the injured body part.

Ongoing care for minor skin wounds includes:
  • Abrasions may be cleaned 2-3 times a day with a mild soap such as dilute baby shampoo.
  • Abrasions to the feet need special care. These tend to become infected very easily. Clean foot abrasions three to four times a day and wear an open shoe.
  • Gently clean scabs of the face with a warm, wet, soft cloth and hydrogen peroxide - try not to cause bleeding. Do not disturb dry scabs in other parts of the body.
  • Dry the wound gently, and completely, with a clean towel or gauze.
  • Apply an antibiotic and a dressing as needed.

Tetanus Considerations
A tetanus shot is necessary right away if you have not had three tetanus shots in the past.

If you have received three tetanus shots in the past, you need a tetanus shot within three days for:
  • A dirty wound and you have not had a tetanus shot in the past five years
  • A clean, minor wound and you have not had a tetanus shot in the past ten years

Continue to Upper Limb Injury Warning Signs

Last Updated: Nov 3, 2008 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Upper Limb Injury References
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  2. Emery KH. Imaging of sports injuries of the upper extremity in children. Clin Sports Med. 2006 Jul;25(3):543-68, viii. [16798142]
  3. Garnett WR. GI effects of OTC analgesics: implications for product selection. J Am Pharm Assoc (Wash). 1996 Sep;NS36(9):565-72. [8824076]
  4. Kijowski R, De Smet AA. The role of ultrasound in the evaluation of sports medicine injuries of the upper extremity. Clin Sports Med. 2006 Jul;25(3):569-90, viii.[16798143]
  5. Orchard JW. Intrinsic and extrinsic risk factors for muscle strains in Australian football. Am J Sports Med. 2001 May-Jun;29(3):300-3. [11394599]
  6. Wainstein JL, Nailor TE. Tendinitis and tendinosis of the elbow, wrist, and hands. Clin Occup Environ Med. 2006;5(2):299-322, vii. [16647650]
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