You are on a camping adventure. You are alone in the woods. You are walking and enjoying your nature trip when out of the blue something slashes one of your legs. You see that the cut is wide and open. You are thinking of running to the hospital but it is miles away. You sense that you need to promptly take care of your cut. Here are some guidelines on how you can clean and sew your own open wound:
- Clean out your wound. If there is running water that is available, flush it out. Rinse it for at least three solid minutes. If you have brought along a first aid kit, get your iodine. Use it and thoroughly clean your wound. If there is a limited supply of water, maximize it and make sure that the wound is uncontaminated.
- Take out your needle. Open a flame and hold your needle over it. That disinfects or sterilizes your needle. Then, begin to thread your needle. You can use whatever you have around. But if you have a fishing line, it can be a great thread to use.
- Anticipate the pain. It is certainly going to hurt. And it is going to hurt badly. Position your needle and start sewing. Aim a bit far from your cut since the wound is also deep. Continue stitching and measure until you reach a quarter inch. Cut the stitch off and then, tie a good knot. Repeat the steps when the cut is longer and more stitches are needed.
- Once you get the chance to seek medical help, do so. You are not Rambo. You need to see a doctor immediately.
- If you chose to stay in the woods for a few more days after you have tended your cut, make an effort to clean it daily. Then, rewrap it, too. You don’t want to risk being infected or getting gangrene.
- When you clean your wound, wash the crust that may have formed around your stitches. That can help in reducing the scar. If your wound is draining a fluid (clear yellow), don’t forget to cover it.
- When you are sleeping, be aware of how you position your wound. Keep it elevated. That is going to help in lessening the pain, in minimizing the swelling, and in speeding the healing.
- Check your first aid kit. If you are staying longer in the woods, you may need to take some antibiotics. If you have an antibiotic ointment, apply it directly to your wound. It can prevent heavy scabs from appearing or from forming.
Note that stitches need to be removed. The usual waiting period is between three and 14 days. The timing has something to do with the location of your wound. If you wound is around your joints or over them, it may need longer time to get better because it moves around a lot. You can always consult a doctor if your stitches are ready to be taken out.