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Scrapes and Cuts: Should I Go to the Emergency Room or an Urgent Care?

Everyone gets small cuts, skinned knees, animal scratches, or puncture wounds once in a while. It can be quite tricky to determine whether a scrape or a cut needs medical attention. Mild lacerations can heal without the need of medical intervention. However, there are some injuries that need emergency medical treatment to ensure proper healing.

The majority of scrapes and cuts can be handled at home and can be treated with a thorough cleaning and application of an antibiotic ointment. In case you are reading this while you are applying pressure on a fresh wound, we advise that you inspect the wound. Go to your local emergency room in San Antonio or call 911 right away if:

  • Blood is spurting out
  • The cut is jagged or gapping and is deeper than ¼ inch
  • There is severe bleeding
  • The cut is made by a rusty object
  • The cut is over a joint and opens every time you move
  • The bleeding won’t stop even after ten minutes of applying steady pressure
  • Muscle, fat or bone can be seen through the wound

If you think that you need emergency medical attention, know that the sooner you get it, the better. It is best to get seen by a doctor within a couple of hours after the injury took place. This will minimize scarring and reduce the risk of infection.

Should you go to an emergency room or an urgent care center? To help you make an informed decision, here’s a helpful guide.

Visit Physicians Premier when:

  • The bleeding won’t stop
  • The injury has cut through a major artery or vein
  • The veins, muscles, and fat are exposed
  • The edges of the cut are uneven and jagged
  • You have a scalp cut
  • You have a long or deep facial laceration
  • The cut is over a joint
  • You have sustained an amputation that has resulted in a bodily tissue removal
  • You have an object embedded in the wound (this should ONLY be removed by a physician)

Visit an urgent care when:

  • You need stitches, but the edges of the cut are straight
  • Minor bites
  • Shallow facial cuts
  • Non-life threatening wounds

For moderate cuts, it is best to do the following as general first aid steps:

  • Clean the wound thoroughly with water and soap. Next, apply antibiotic cream or ointment. Finally, cover the wound with bandage.
  • With a clean cloth or bandage, apply even pressure. If bleeding persists for more than 10 minutes, seek medical attention.
  • Be on the lookout for infection. Warmth, redness, and swelling in the wound area are signs of drainage and infection from the wound. Go to the doctor if you think that your wound is infected.

If you are in need of efficient, compassionate emergency medical care, remember that you will not have to wait in line at Physicians Premier, your local emergency room in San Antonio. We are open 24/7, 365 for  you and your family.

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