From papercuts in an office to nails on a construction site, there are many ways for workers to sustain injuries to their skin while in the workplace. Sometimes skin wounds like abrasions or lacerations do not require more than a simple bandage and sometimes they result in a trip to an emergency room or even more extensive medical care. No matter the severity it is important to make sure that things like lacerations, abrasions, and puncture wounds are treated as soon as possible to avoid complications, both in performing your job and in healing from the injury.

If a wound, minor or severe, is left untreated it can cause a wide range of complications which may result in lost time from work, loss of income and unexpected medical bills. From pain and swelling resulting from cellulitis to the possibility of amputation, not treating a wound can result in a wide variety of complications.

Side Effects

Untreated wounds can lead to infections such as gangrene, cellulitis, and abscesses along with an array of side effects ranging from minor to life threatening.  For example, some bacteria produce tetanus, which creates a high fever, headaches, hypertension and problems with swallowing. The recovery time from tetanus infections can sometimes take months.  You may also experience a more severe, life threatening infection like sepsis.  A sepsis infection infects the bloodstream and can threatens the organs. Without medical attention, sepsis can lead to septic shock, which produces a deep drop in blood pressure and can lead to death.

Non-healing wounds

Another risk of untreated skin injuries at work is slow or delayed healing.  Whether you experience infection at the wound site or have a chronic health condition such as diabetes, your healing process could be affected.  Many wounds will heal in a matter of days.  However, if a wound does not heal after four to eight weeks of treatment, it may be evidence of a chronic problem requiring treatment from a wound care expert.

Amputations

Aside from sepsis, the most severe risk of an untreated or infected wound is amputation. Doctors consider this option when it is clear an infection has permanently damaged a body part and that damage will likely lead to the death of the patient or at the very least the death of the impacted body part. While amputation may save the life of the patient, it can make it impossible for that person to go back to work without extensive rehabilitation.

Whether you have sustained a minor skin injury or have experienced an infection resulting in more serious disability pursuing benefits under The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act can provide lifetime medical benefits, wage loss replacement and more. Contacting a skilled attorney can protect your rights and let you focus on healing and getting back to your life.