The skin is remarkably resistant to the wear and tear of everyday life, but from time to time it may be affected by minor injury. Hands and feet are especially vulnerable to cuts, scrapes, and blisters. In a healthy person, superficial skin injuries normally heal rapidly, and most do not need attention from a doctor.
The most common types of skin injury are minor cuts and scrapes, in which the outer layer of the skin is broken. These types of wound are usually trivial, although they may be painful and there is a risk of infection entering the damaged site.
Sunburn is another common minor skin injury but one that is usually avoidable. Damage to the skin caused by overexposure to sunlight may not always appear serious, but, in the long term, sunburn increases the risk of potentially dangerous skin cancers. Friction and burns can cause damage to tissues beneath the surface of the skin, which often remains unbroken. Leaking blood and other fluids from this damage are trapped under the skin and appear as bruises or blisters. Although minor burns and scalds can be painful, most heal well within a few days if treated promptly.
Simple self-help measures are often the only treatment needed for minor skin injuries. Burns, which can be serious, are discussed elsewhere in the guide.
For further information on the structure and function of the skin.
From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.
The subjects, conditions and treatments covered in this encyclopaedia are for information only and may not be covered by your insurance product should you make a claim.