First aid is an essential skill. By carrying out simple procedures, it may be possible to provide basic treatment for minor injuries to eliminate the need for professional medical help or to reduce pain, swelling and discomfort until professional medical help can be sought.
Foreign Objects in the Eye
Foreign objects, such as dust, can irritate the white of the eye. If a patient is experiencing pain or discomfort in the eye, blurred vision, redness or watering of the eye, or have their eyelids screwed up in spasm, treatment is likely to be necessary.
To prevent injury to the eye:
Ask the patient to lie down so that they are facing the light. Stand behind the patient and gently separate their eyelids with your finger and thumb. Request that the patient looks up and down and to their left and right so that you can examine all parts of their eye.
If you view a foreign object on the white of their eye, try to wash it out with clean water poured either from a glass or eye-wash bath. Tilt the patient’s head so that they are leaning towards the injured side and place a towel on their shoulder. Pour clean water from the bridge of their nose, allowing it to run through their injured eye. If these actions fail to remove the object, carefully lift the object off the white of the eye with a moist swab.
If the object remains in place, seek professional help.
Bleeding from the nose usually occurs when the small blood vessels inside of the nostrils become ruptured, either as the result of a hard blow to the nose, or forceful sneezing or blowing of the nose.
To control blood loss:
Ask the patient to sit down and tilt their head forwards. In doing so, the blood will drain from their nostrils rather than run down the back of their throat. Request that the patient pinches the soft part of their nose and breathes slowly through their mouth. Advise them to refrain from speaking, swallowing, sniffing, coughing or spitting as this may prevent the bleeding from stopping.
After 10 minutes, ask the patient to release the pressure that they have been exerting on the soft part of their nose. If blood continues to flow, request that they reapply pressure for two 10 minute periods. Once the bleeding has stopped, advise the patient to rest and refrain from blowing their nose.
If the bleeding is severe, or continues for more than 30 minutes, seek medical advice.
Insect Bites and Stings
Insect bites and stings are common and in most cases, cause only minor irritation. Insect bites and stings usually make a small hole in the skin and cause the area surrounding it to become swollen, red, painful and itchy.
To treat an insect bite:
Wash the affected area with soap and cold water and place a cold compress over the area to lessen swelling. Ask the patient to refrain from scratching the affected area. If the patient is in pain, advise them to take a painkiller, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.
To treat an insect sting:
If the sting can be seen with the naked eye, brush it off using the edge of a credit card. Do not use tweezers. Apply a cold compress to the wound for at least 10 minutes and ask the patient to elevate the limb that has been stung.
If swelling and pain persists, advise the patient to visit their doctor.
If the patient has a more serious reaction to an insect bite or sting and shows signs of impaired breathing, a skin rash, or swelling to their face, tongue, mouth or lips, call an ambulance.
Melissa Wilson is a first aid trainer in Scotland. She encourages people to join a first aid course so they will know what to do in life-threatening situations. She hopes that this article will encourage people to learn more about first aid.