Student Health Office
Self Help Guide
Common Health Problems
Skin Injuries – Minor cuts, scrapes, burns
Care for Minor Cuts & Scrapes
- Wash your hands – Make sure your hands are clean so that the wound is not contaminated with additional dirt or germs.
- Allow the wound to bleed slightly – This helps cleanse impurities from the wound. You may apply slight pressure on either side of the cut or scrape to help it bleed.
- Clean the wound with soap and water – Flush the wound with water. Then, saturate a sterile gauze pad or clean cloth with soap and water. Wash the wound carefully, moving all dirt and debris out of the wound and away from the edges.
- Flush the wound liberally with water – All remnants of soap, dirt, and debris should be flushed from the cut or scrape, which should now be clean. If any visible dirt remains, repeat steps 3 & 4.
- You may apply an antibiotic ointment – Although not necessary, an antibiotic ointment containing neomycin, polymyxin, and bacitracin (Triple Antibiotic Ointment—available in SHO’s
- OTC medication counter) may help prevent infection. Use sparingly.
- Cover the wound with a sterile bandage – This will keep the wound clean and serve as a reminder to protect the wound from further trauma.
Care for Minor Burns
- Apply cold water or ice compress – This will help minimize the burn’s severity by slowing or stopping the spread of the burn into surrounding tissue. Immersion of a superficial first-degree burn in ice-cold water, or the application of an ice water dressing may often prevent the burn from becoming a second-degree burn. The burn should be kept cold until the cold becomes uncomfortable.
- Remove the applied cold until the burning sensation returns, then repeat step 1 – Steps 1 & 2 should be repeated until the burn is not longer significantly painful. At least three to four repetitions are usually required.
- If the skin is blistered or broken, follow the steps from the “Care for Minor Cuts, Scrapes and Burns” document. DO NOT BREAK THE BLISTERS when cleaning the area.
- If no blisters or broken skin are apparent, wash the area lightly with soap and cold water, rinse thoroughly, and cover the area with a small amount of antibiotic ointment or silvadene cream. Cover with a sterile bandage. The ointment/cream will help protect the skin from breaking and provide protection from infection. It will also help prevent the bandage from sticking to the wound/burn.
Signs and Symptoms of Wound Infection
- SWELLING - The area around the wound begins to swell.
- HEAT – The area around the wound feels warm.
- ACHE – You experience pain that is out of proportion to the size of the wound.
- REDNESS – The area around the wound is red, sometimes with streaks extending away from the wound site.
- PUS – White blood cells are the body’s defense against infection, and often accumulate in the infected wound.
SEEK EMERGENCY CARE IF THE WOUND:
- Is caused by an animal bite or scratch
- Is particularly large or deep
- Will not stop bleeding
- Becomes infected (see signs of wound infection)
Symptoms and Causes
- Viruses cause 90% of all sore throats. There are an estimated 200-300 different strains of viruses which can cause colds and/or sore throats. Your body develops immunity to each virus as it comes along, but if the next one is slightly different, you may get another cold/sore throat.
- Allergies may cause post-nasal drip that irritates the throat to the point of soreness. The sore throat caused by post-nasal drip tends to be worse at night and in the morning when you first awaken, but is less sore during the day.
- Bacteria (esp. Group A Beta Streptococcus) causes what is generally known as strep throat. This is what most students worry about when they have a sore throat, but in fact, strep is an uncommon cause of sore throats. A strep throat tends to cause pain that starts out gradually and builds up quickly to moderate-severe pain. It may become difficult to swallow. The pain is constant, throughout the day. You may also feel extremely tired and have headaches, muscle aches and occasional episodes of nausea and vomiting. You may notice bad breath odor. It is common to have a fever of 100+ degrees for the course of the illness. The fever tends to worsen at night.
If you look at your throat, you will notice that it is red and swollen. The tonsils are usually bright red, with white, pus-like spots or patches. The lymph glands in your neck will be pea-size or larger, and tender to gentle pressure. If you notice signs of strep throat, make an appointment to be seen in the Student Health Office (x6418)
Regardless of the cause of the sore throat, there are several things you can do which may help:
- Increase your intake of fluids. During an illness, you need 8-10 big glasses of water or fruit juice daily.
- Increase your sleep. Try to squeeze in 1-2 extra hours of sleep daily for several days. Sleep time is when your body does its best healing.
- Use salt water gargle mix (1/2 teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water. Gargle with it several times a day. This keeps your throat clean and moist and decreases swelling and irritation.
- Increase the humidity in your sleeping area. Get a cool-mist humidifier and run it at night. This keeps your throat moist.
If you have a viral illness, the focus is on symptom relief and immune system strengthening to help you get better faster. Some suggestions for symptom relief include:
- Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) – as directed for general body aches, discomfort, sore throat and fever
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol) – as directed for general body aches, discomfort, sore throat and fever
- Lozenges with benzocaine (anesthetic) – helps numb the throat
- Zinc – may help your throat & fight infection, but not fully proven
- Avoid aspirin and aspirin-containing products
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