How To Dress A Fingertip Wound
If you’re an emergency room doctor, sooner rather than later you’ll be called upon to dress a fingertip wound. It’s not as bad as dressing one for a full-fledged amputation, but there are some things that need to be done correctly in order to prevent infection from spreading so quickly.
First off, if you have just been injured, make sure that the bleeding has stopped before applying any bandages. If there is still blood coming out of the tip of your finger or toes, see how much you can stop by tying a piece of fabric around your finger (or toe) above the knuckle or below the nail bed. This will help slow down the flow of blood until more advanced measures can be taken.
Next, use clean dry cotton gauze or material to wrap your finger (or toe). The gauze should be big enough to cover all three fingers (or toes), but small enough so that no air gets through. You’ll also want to use something soft against the skin — like a washcloth — to apply pressure to the wound while wrapping. Ideally, this would be a towel, but anything that doesn’t scratch the surface of the fingertip or toe is good; make sure that it isn’t wet.
When wrapping, start at the base of the finger (toe) where the cut ends into the fleshy part of the finger (toe). Make sure that the edges of the gauze overlap each other slightly as you go up towards the fingertips (toes). Keep them close together without overlapping too much because doing so might allow bacteria to get underneath the edge of the bandage. At the same time, don’t leave such large gaps between the bandages that air can travel under the bandages and infect the open area. Once you’ve wrapped the entire finger (toe), secure the end of the bandage (the cut end) with tape, dental floss, string, etc.
Once the bandage has been secured, take a pair of sharp scissors and trim away any excess bandage that hangs over the sides of the finger (toe). Then put two more layers of gauze directly onto the first layer of gauze — these new layers should be smaller than the ones already covering the finger (toe). Again, keep the edges close together without leaving too many gaps. Repeat this process until all the layers of gauze have been used. After cutting away the extra gauze, fold the topmost layer several times to form a pocket within the bandage. Fill the pocket with moistened gauze using either regular gauze soaked in hydrogen peroxide, saline solution, or antiseptic ointment. Make sure that the wound stays submerged in the liquid and that the bandaged finger (toe) never comes in contact with it. Continue filling the pockets with moistened gauze until they reach the next lower layer of gauze. Fold the next lower layer of gauze to create a pocket that matches those created previously. Continue until all the layers of gauze have been filled. Finally, roll the entire thing up tightly like a burrito and secure the end with tape, dental floss, string, etc.
Place the rolled bandage inside a plastic bag and place the bag(s) on ice in a sealed container or another watertight bag. Never let the cut-off part of your finger or toe come in direct contact with the ice. Also, make sure that the environment surrounding the injury remains cold during transport. In case of severe frostbite injuries, try to keep the affected areas warm instead. When the wound reaches its destination hospital, remove the bandages carefully and replace them with sterile dressings.
As mentioned earlier, if the wound is fresh and there hasn’t been much time for the immune system to fight the infection, you may not even need to do anything else besides cleaning the wound thoroughly with soap and disinfectant. However, if the wound seems infected, then you may have to treat it with antibiotics or anti-fungal medications. And remember that in most cases, washing with soap and water alone won’t suffice. For instance, if you were bitten by an insect, you’d need to cleanse and drain the wound properly before you could safely apply topical antimicrobial agents like Neosporin. If you didn’t know what you were dealing with, you may have gotten yourself infected with a disease like tetanus. In cases like these, you may need to consult a physician immediately to determine whether or not you need additional treatment.
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