Most people are familiar with the pain of small paper cut on the finger, or a cut caused by a knife while preparing food in the kitchen. In both instances, a hand cut is the result. How do you know when a hand cut is minor, and when you need to seek medical attention? If the hand cut is minor, how do you treat it so it heals with little or no scarring? And finally, when is a hand cut severe enough to seek the services of a hand specialist?
The first category of a hand cut includes minor cuts such as that painful paper cut. It also includes minor cuts while cooking, and cuts as a result of other household chores, including working in the yard. The first step is to make sure the bleeding has stopped. If the cut is still bleeding, apply pressure to the area of the hand until the bleeding stops. Then treat the cut by cleaning the area of the hand affected with soap and warm water. Once the area of the cut is clean and dry, apply antibiotic cream and cover with a bandage. Apply ice, if necessary, to reduce any swelling.
One sure way to know if the cut requires medical attention is the amount of bleeding. If you cannot stop the bleeding by applying pressure after a period of a few minutes, then you need to seek immediate medical attention. The size of the cut is also an important factor to consider. A large cut is going to need stitches to close the wound. There will be hand cuts that can go either way. Is the cut in a location on the hand where continual movement will prevent healing without stitches? Is the potential for scarring an important consideration? Does the area around the cut look like it is infected? When in doubt, seek medical care to stitch the hand cut.
Some hand cuts will require the treatment of a hand specialist. An example would be a cut that severs a muscle or nerve in the hand. Any cut that is going to in any way diminish the use of the hand needs to be treated by a specialist. An emergency room doctor will be able to decide whether or not to call in a hand specialist. Of course, as a patient you can request a consultation by a specialist, even though the emergency physician believes he can treat the hand cut himself.
The hands are too important to leave untreated. All hand cuts need to be taken seriously. Any permanent damage can cause loss of income, and lead to further complications later in life. A consultation fee for a hand specialist is a small price to pay for ensuring that your hand cut does not leave you with a permanent injury.