Abrasions occur when skin is scraped against a rough surface causing the top layer of skin to be torn away. This means dirt and foreign material can still penetrate the skin.
Lacerations occur when a sharp object causes a tearing of the skin giving a wound the appearance of a jagged edged cavity. Lacerations are deeper than abrasions and are at a greater risk for infection. A physician may be consulted.
Punctures occur from a sharp object penetrating directly through the skin such as a track spike. There is also a high risk for infection and the athlete may need to see a physician.
Incisions are similar to lacerations. Incisions are caused by a sharp object, such as a knife or piece of glass, resulting in a smooth cut. In sports, this can be caused by sharp bone or poorly padded skin over bone. There is also a high risk for infection and the athlete may need to see a physician.
Avulsions occur when tissue is ripped from the skin. Avulsed skin should be placed against gauze moistened with saline and placed in a plastic bag. The tissue should be transported with the athlete where it has a chance of being reattached.
Bruises occur from a blunt force causing soft tissue damage without breaking the skin. Localized pain, tenderness, and ecchymosis may develop. There may also be a functional loss if a contusion develops along a muscle. A bruise (ecchymosis) occurs and the area typically turns black and blue from the injured blood vessels. P.R.I.C.E. (Protection Rest Ice Compression and Elevation) should be applied to the area.
Management of open wounds typically involves cleaning, medicating, and dressing of the wounded area with either bandage or wound closure strips. Be aware of universal precautions and possible risk of HIV, hepatitis and other blood borne pathogens. Most wounds do not need physician treatment. If proper wound healing does not commence or if the wound is severe, the athlete should be referred to a physician ASAP and at a maximum within 12 hours to receive stitches.
This tool was constructed using the expertise of certified athletic trainers, an orthopedic surgeon, and a certified teacher/web site designer. These professionals were selected for their abilities to interpret medical information and to instruct diverse populations.