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Minor wounds


  Apart from the complications of each particular wound in itself, they all have a risk in common: infection.

The opening in the skin makes it easy for micro organisms to penetrate the body, and the object causing the wound itself may be contaminated by germs that filter beneath the skin at the time the wound is produced.

If the wound is not too dirty, and is cured properly, it will probably not cause any problems, but if infection is present, this could lead to an inflammation in the area, which swells up, reddens and hurts. The accumulation of cells from the body's immune system and dead micro organisms gives rise to the formation of pus, a thick secretion with a foul odour that suppurates from the wound.

If infection is not present, the wound will heal up, new tissue will grow and fibres are formed that bind both edges. The time necessary for the wound to heal is usually one week. Depending on the type of skin, a mark or scar may remain.

One of the most serious complications that may arise is infection due to tetanus, infectious illness caused by the bacteria Clostridium tetani which causes extremely grave disorders of the nerve functions.

This bacterium is found in many places; in the soil, in the thorns or needles of plants, in metal or objects that easily penetrate the skin.

If the tetanus bacillus penetrates the skin, it may reproduce inside it, producing a toxin that spreads throughout the rest of the body, especially the nerves, and acts on muscular contractions, leading to rigidity in different parts of the body.

The wounds that have the greatest risk of becoming infected with tetanus are deep or curved wounds which make it easy for the bacillus to spread under the best possible conditions, i.e., when there is a lack of oxygen.

The best way to prevent this infection is the regular administration of a tetanus vaccine, which is routinely given nowadays to all children, as part of the child vaccine programmes.

Adults must be re-vaccinated every 10 years.

In the event that this has not been done, a tetanus shot must be given to the patient after being wounded.


M. Pilar Gascón. Pharmacist.