First Aid for Your First Line of Defense
The skin is the largest organ in your body. Read below for tips to help heal this organ after injury.
Warm weather allows us to send the kids outside to play. Hiking, biking, swimming, playgrounds, sports games, and gardening offer fresh air and exercise. However, because warmer weather means shorts and tank tops our skin is exposed to thousands of insults a day. While watching the intense Lacrosse playoff game last night, I couldn't help but wince watching the girls skid, roll and trip, knowing their skin would be covered in turf burns, cuts and bruises.
The skin is the largest organ in the body. This silent, soft organ packages all our vessels, muscles, ligaments and bones quite beautifully, working hard as a first line of defense against bacteria and viruses. It helps us regulate body temperature and protects us against excessive water loss. It encapsulates our nerves, which direct sensation and it is the only organ to manufacture vitamin D.
All this said, we test the strength of this organ daily with falls, scrapes, sharp objects and blunt force. Once your first line of defense is broken down it is important to prevent infection. It takes the skin 7-10 days to heal. Following these instructions may prevent a visit to the Emergency Room.
1. Hold pressure to a wound for a minimum of 15 minutes. Do not keep checking to see if it is bleeding. This decreases the ability to clot and exposes the wound to infection.
2. Gently wash all broken skin with soap and warm water. It is not necessary to use antibacterial soap. Using a facecloth or gauze will help remove dirt because of the texture.
3. Remove any splinters, dirt and tiny rocks with tweezers cleaned in alcohol.
4. Soak abrasions and cuts using sea salt and warm water (or jump in the ocean!) for 10 minutes, twice a day. Salt draws out microscopic dirt and pollutants as it stimulates skin cells to regenerate. Hydrogen peroxide would work as well.
5. Apply an antibacterial solution. Garlic, coconut oil and tea tree oil are cheap and effective natural remedies. A triple antibiotic ointment is more effective than Neosporin. Keep a lotion in the cabinet with vitamin K to encourage bleeding in the skin from abrasions and bruising to be reabsorbed.
6. Keep wounds and abrasions covered. There used to be a theory to "let the air get at it," but this philosophy has been proven to cause larger scars and puts the skin at a higher risk of infection.
7. Change dressings morning and night (after the soaks) and monitor for signs of skin infection. Any redness outside of the trauma should be monitored closely. Use a nontoxic pen or marker to mark the area of concern and if the redness moves beyond the marked area or streaking from the trauma occurs; seek medical attention.
Keep a first aid kit in your home and car with the following items:
1. Bottle of water with salt added for immediate washing and disinfecting (This is great if someone gets something in their eye too)
2. Large soft gauze for pressure and drying
4. Antiseptic oil or ointment
5. Nonstick bandaids of many sizes
6. Gauze of different sizes and medical tape
7. Scissors to cut clothing, gauze, and tape
8. Instant ice packs
If a wound is deep, keep in mind that there is a six to eight hour window before the wound is too contaminated to suture, therefore an ER visit may be helpful. Some wounds may put you at risk of Tetanus, so please make sure your vaccines are less than 10 years old.