Penetrating Wounds vs. Non-Penetrating Wounds

Penetrating Wounds vs. Non-Penetrating Wounds | Dr. Ali Ghahary

We are all likely to experience wounds at some point in our lives as a result of our daily activities – but there are different kinds of wounds that require different kinds of treatments.

There are two different categories of wounds: Non-penetrating wounds, such as abrasions, lacerations, contusions, and even concussions; and penetrating wounds, which include skin cuts, skin trauma from sharp objects, as well as surgical wounds. You can also experience other miscellaneous wounds such as thermal wounds, chemical wounds, electric wounds, and bites and stings.

Non-Penetrating Wounds

Abrasions are usually superficial. A superficial wound such as this is considered minor and requires little treatment. A skinned knee, for example, as considered a minor, superficial wound – and is usually the result of the skin rubbing against a rough surface (i.e. due to falling on a sidewalk.) They do not generally result in any scarring. Abrasions can, however, also be serious if they are deep. Deeper wounds can be quite painful and may require skin grafts if there is any loss of skin.

Lacerations generally involves tearing of the tissue and can also affect other, deeper tissues such as muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, blood vessel, nerves, and other internal organs. Common areas of the body that are most affected by lacerations include the elbows, hips and knees. Lacerations can also occur as a result of motor vehicle accidents. Compared to other wounds, such as abrasions, lacerations generally take longer to heal and can result in scarring.

Contusions, also known as bruises, are caused as a result of damage to the blood vessels – usually due to being bumped and/or hit. You will often notice the affected area turn purple, which is the result of blood leaking from the blood vessels. This is also referred to as ecchymosis.

Concussions, while not skin wounds, are still considered wounds. They happen as a result of trauma or injury (such as a heavy blow) to the head, and are commonly seen in sports such as hockey and football. While many concussions are considered to be non-life threatening, they can still be serious. Common signs and symptoms of concussions include headache, nausea and/or vomiting, confusion/memory problems, and blurred vision.

Penetrating Wounds

As mentioned, there are many types of penetrating wounds that can occur. Penetrating wounds occur when an object enters the body or pierces the skin so severely that it results in an open wound, which is much more serious than a superficial or non-penetrating wounds. Because penetrating wounds can also cause damage to internal organs, it’s also not uncommon to develop an infection as a result. In order to assess the severity of a penetrating wound, you may require medical imaging scans (such as an X-ray or CT scan). Treatment of penetrating wounds may involve everything from stitches to surgery.

While most family physicians like Dr. Ali Ghahary are equipped to assess and treat minor wounds in-office, certain wounds may result in the need to see a specialize or require hospitalization.