TREATING SOFT TISSUE INJURIES
The term "soft tissue injury" is often used to describe an injury to the skin and/or
a. Skin. The skin is the body's largest organ. The skin is watertight and
bacteria cannot penetrate it unless there is a break (open wound) in the skin. The skin
helps to regulate body temperature. The body is cooled in warm weather by the
evaporation of perspiration and the dilation of blood vessels in the skin. In winter, the
constriction of blood vessels in the skin helps to retain body heat. Specialized nerve
endings transmit sensations such as heat, cold, pressure, pain, and position of the
body in space. The three layers of the skin (epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous
layer) were described previously in paragraph 6-3a.
b. Mucous Membranes. Mucous membranes line all body openings (orifices)
such as the nose, mouth, anus, and vagina. The mucous membranes perform the
same basic function of protecting the body from invasion by bacteria that the skin
performs. Mucous membranes secrete a watery substance called mucus that keeps
the orifices lubricated.
IDENTIFY OPEN SOFT TISSUE INJURIES
If the skin or mucous membrane is penetrated, an open soft tissue injury exists.
The injury can be an abrasion, laceration, avulsion, or puncture.
a. Abrasion. An abrasion is an injury caused by scraping the skin against a
rough surface. The damage is usually confined to the epidermis and part of the
b. Laceration. A laceration is a cut or tear in the skin. The wound may extend
through the subcutaneous tissue and into the muscle tissues. Major blood vessels
and nerves may also be involved.
c. Avulsion. An avulsion is a tearing away of tissue. The separated part
usually contains epidermis, dermis and subcutaneous tissue layers.
d. Puncture. A puncture is caused by an object such as a splinter, bullet,
knife, or shrapnel penetrating the flesh. If the object goes through the body part and
exits on the opposite side, the wound is called a perforated wound. If the object
remains in the wound and protrudes above the skin, the object is said to be impaled.
Even if the wound appears to be small and the bleeding does not appear to be severe,
the object may still have caused significant internal damage.