Note: Key primary material for this article came from woundcarecenters.org.
Wound vacs – and negative pressure wound therapy, or NPWT – are used to treat a variety of different wounds in patients. But what exactly is a wound? What are the different types and how are they treated using a wound vac?
In this first post in our short series on wounds and healing, we’ll start by taking a look at wound types and explore some of the most common ways they’re caused.
There are two basic types, or classifications, of wounds: Open and closed.
Closed wounds are those where the skin is not broken. Closed wounds include simple injuries like basic bruises, where you bump into something and later experience redness, bleeding and/or discoloration underneath the surface of the skin at the site.
More serious closed wounds take place when someone is violently hit by an object. A direct blow can cause more severe internal bleeding, tissue damage and even muscle damage. However, the damage in these closed wounds is still below the surface of the skin.
In open wounds, the skin is split, cut or cracked open in some way. Open wounds leave underlying tissue – and sometimes bone and muscle – exposed to the air, as well as to dirt and bacteria.
Many people think that open wounds need air to heal; however, what’s most important is that wounds get just the right amount of moisture they need to heal and that they’re protected from infection while closing.
Wound vacs and NPWT are used exclusively for open wounds, where they’re used to help close the skin while providing moisture and protection from harmful bacteria.
Types of open wounds
Open wounds fall into several major categories, including:
· Abrasions: These are shallow, irregular wounds on the upper layers of skin, due to contact with a rough or smooth surface, such as when you scrape your knee or fall off a bicycle and get “road rash.” There’s usually minor bleeding and little pain with these wounds.
· Punctures: Punctures are small and usually round. They’re caused by objects like needles, nails or teeth, such as in the case of a human or animal bite. They’re sometimes caused intentionally – for instance, when you get a flu shot – but are often accidental. The wound size, depth, bleeding and pain are directly related to the size and force of the object.
· Penetrations: This type of wound takes place when an object or force breaks through the skin and damages underlying tissue, muscle or organs. Penetrations have different sizes, shapes and levels of severity depending on the cause, and can be life-threatening.
· Lacerations: Lacerations are tears in the skin with irregular, torn edges. They’re usually deeper than abrasions and cause more pain and bleeding, and they’re often caused by trauma or are the result of an accident.
· Incisions: Incisions generally result from surgical procedures or from the skin being cut with a sharp object like a scalpel, knife or scissors. Incisions usually have sharp, smooth edges and lines.
· Gunshot wounds: These are penetrating wounds caused by bullets from a firearm. Entrance wounds may have burn marks or soot on the edges and surrounding tissue. If a bullet goes completely through the body, the exit wound will be larger and more irregular than the entrance wound. The fast, spinning movement of a bullet can cause serious damage to tissue, vital organs and blood vessels as it passes through the body.
In our next post in this short series, we’ll take a look at the complications that can occur with open wounds and begin to explore how wound vacs can be used to treat them.
Interested in learning more about wound vacs and NPWT? Contact The Wound Vac Company today.