Types & Causes of Open Wounds

A wound is a break in the continuity of a tissue of the body, either internal or external. Wounds are classified as open or closed. An open wound is a break in the skin or in a mucous membrane. A closed wound involves underlying tissues without a break in the skin or a mucous membrane.


Wounds usually result from external physical forces. The most common causes of wounds are motor vehicle accidents, falls and the mishandling of sharp objects, tools, machinery, and weapons.


Any injury, unless it is very minor, may be harmful not only to the tissues directly involved but also to the functions of the entire body. Wounds that threaten life include those that produce cassation of breathing, severe bleeding shock, or damage to the brain, heart, or other vital organ.

The local effects of an open or closed wound may include loss of blood, interference with blood supply, destruction of tissues, nerve injury, functional disturbances, and contamination with foreign material. These effects often involve nearby uninjured tissues. Even superficial wounds sometimes take a week or more to heal. The healing process includes absorption of blood and serum that have seeped into the area, repair of injured cells, replacement of dead cells with scar tissue, and recovery of the body from functional disturbances, if there were any.

The two most serious first aid problems caused by open wounds are a large, rapid loss of blood, which may result in shock, and contamination and infection of exposed body tissue.

Types and Causes of Open Wounds

Open wounds range from those that bleed severely but are relatively free from the danger of infection to those that bleed little but have a greater potential for becoming infected. Often the victim has more than one type of wound.


An abrasions results from scraping (abrading) the skin and thereby damaging it. Bleeding in an abrasion is usually limited to oozing of blood from ruptured small veins and capillaries. However, there is a danger of contamination and infection, because of dirt and bacteria may have been ground into the broken tissues.

Abrasions commonly result from falls or the handing of rough objects. Example are skinned knees, rope burns (which are actually abrasions, not burns), and shallow multiple scratches.


Incised wounds, or cuts in-body tissues are commonly caused by knives, metal edges, broken glass, or other sharp objects commonly cause incised wounds, or cuts, in-body tissues. The degree of bleeding depends on the depth and extent of a cut. Deep cuts may involve blood vessels and may cause extensive bleeding. They may also damage muscle, tendons, and nerves.


Lacerations are jagged, irregular, or blunt breaks or tears in the soft tissues. Bleeding may be rapid and extensive. The destruction of tissue is greater in Lacerations than in cuts. The deep contamination of wounds that result from accidents involving moving parts of machinery increases the chances of later infection.


Puncture wounds are produced by bullets and pointed objects, such as pins, nails, and splinters. External bleeding is usually minor, but the puncturing object may penetrate deeply into the body and this damage organs and soft tissues and sever internal bleeding. Because puncture wounds generally are not flushed out by external bleeding, they are more likely than some other wounds to become infected. Tetanus organisms and other harmful bacteria that grow rapidly deep within body tissues by a penetrating object.


Avulsion wounds involve the forcible separation or tearing of tissue from the victim’s body. Avulsions are commonly caused by animal bites and accidents involving motor vehicle, heavy machinery, guns and explosives. They are usually followed immediately by a heavy bleeding, a detached finger, toe, nose tip, ear, or, in rare cases, whole limb may be successfully attached to a victim’s body by a surgeon if the severed part is sent with the victim to the hospital.

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