Common accidents in the home

Scalded arm This woman reached to pick up a boiling kettle with her arm over the spout. As a consequence she received a painful scald on the left wrist.

She immediately held the burnt area under cold water for 10 minutes and removed her watch and the rings from her fingers, in case of swelling.

She then loosely covered the burn with cling film.

The blister was left intact and the area was kept covered with a sterile dressing to reduce the risk of infection.

BURNED HAND OF A CHILD

This child grabbed hold of a hot iron when the babysitter had temporarily left it unattended.

The child was referred to hospital, where flamazine cream was applied, and the hand covered by cling film.

The superficial skin subsequently peeled, leaving intact skin and full function of the hand.

HAEMATOMA FOLLOWING A FALL

This elderly woman slipped after stepping on a pile of wet leaves that had accumulated outside her back door. She suffered no loss of consciousness but she sustained a large haematoma on the right cheek, which took several weeks to disperse.

The patient was referred to A&E for X-ray, which found no evidence of underlying fracture.

CELLULITIS

This elderly woman scraped her shin on the corner of a cupboard. The skin was torn and within a few days she had developed a spreading cellulitis around the lesion.

The infection was treated with a course of flucloxacillin. The wound eventually broke down and she required regular visits form the district nurse for dressings until the ulcer healed.

HORNET STING

This woman was stung by a hornet as she leant back in her chair.

Pain, inflammation and oedema developed quickly. By the next day the stung site was the size of a dinner plate despite the application of hydrocortisone cream to the area and taking oral antihistamines. The patient did not suffer any more severe generalised reaction.

SUB-UNGUAL HAEMATOMA

This woman accidentally shut her finger in the cupboard door and sustained a sub-ungual haematoma.

A drill hole was made to release the blood from under the nail, but by the next morning the finger was still extremely painful and she was finding it impossible to continue her work as a typist.

The patient was referred to hospital for X-ray where they found that she had also sustained a fracture of the distal phalanx. She was unable to work for several weeks.

Contributed by Dr Jean Watkins, a GP in Ringwood, Hampshire.

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