First Aid/Grazed Bullet Thigh Wound


Hello Marcus,

Iím currently writing a scene in my novel where the police are trying to shoot my 16 year old character within 15-20 ft. distance between them. Their purpose is to shoot him in the leg so my character will slow down. However, as my character is running, he gets grazed by a bullet in his thigh just a few inches above the knee. He couldnít go home or even to the hospital because heís an escaping patient. He has to treat this wound by himself with soap and water because apparently those are the only things he could find and bandage it with cloth.

My questions are:
1. Will he be limping when he walks and runs? If yes, for how long will it be before the pain goes away and heíll be able to walk and run normally?
2. Is it right to wash it with soap and water?
3. If he washes it with soap and water and binds it with cloth, will the blood still pour out as much as before he tended to it?
4. How long will the wound keep bleeding?
5. How long will it take before it becomes a scar?
6. If I ever make him stumble across a pharmacy, which medicine should he buy?
7. How often should I clean it and replace bandages (cloth)?
8. Will there be a bruise around it?
9. What activities should he avoid to prevent damaging the wound even more?
10. Will he instantly feel that heís been hit by a bullet?
11. On a scale of 1-10, how much pain will he be in?

Sorry if you find them too many but I would really appreciate any help since grazed bullets are a rare find on the internet and Iím having trouble. Thank you so much you are really kindud!

Hello Briar,

Here are some answers:

1. He may have a slight limp. He should be able to run well, especially if he really needs to get away in a hurry.

2. Yes, soap and water should work well, an antibiotic salve like Neosporin would be very helpful too.

3. A grazing wound won't bleed a lot, especially to the upper leg. There will be some minor bleeding from the small vessels under the skin, maybe a few within the muscle but the bullet would have to go pretty deep (close to the bone) to produce any gush of blood.

4. *see above*  it will ooze for several hours, maybe up to 6 hours but after that it should start its healing process.

5. As soon as the healing process starts, after 7-10 days the wound should start to show signs of new tissue growth. a couple weeks to a month it hay still be red, crusty, maybe slightly raised. After 6 months there should definitely be a well healed scar (if not before)

6. Erythromycin or Cipro and Neomyacin ointment (tripple antibiotic cream)

7. Clean the wound daily or when the area gets dirty. Change the bandages daily or when they become dirty or wet.

8. There will probably be some bruising, it may or may not be easily seen without close inspection.

9. Any extreme activities that stretch the skin around the wound since this may open up newly formed tissues over the wound. But from a practice standpoint, if you're on the run I'd run and deal with the wound later. Maybe stay out of stagnant water, and don't lay down in manure?

10. He may or may not, especially if he has adrenaline pumping in him when he gets shot. A fair number of people report the gun shot wound didn't hurt or just felt like a ball of warm mud hit them.

11. *see above* Initially, probably very little. Hours to days after, as swelling occurs... mild to moderate pain could present. If the wound becomes infected there will be more pain that spreads to cover an increasing area around the wound and will eventually lead to a fever and delirium if not treated.

If you still want more information search for "superficial gun shot wounds" or "gunshot wounds involving the dermal layers"

Happy writing,


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Marcus LaBarbera


I am available to answer most questions related to: first aid, pre- hospital medicine, EMT and Paramedic questions, medical transport, critical care transport, ICU/CCU care, sedation, and medicine in general.


I have worked as a NYS Paramedic since 1993 for both community based ambulance companies and large commercial agencies. I Have experience as bike team commander, and shift supervisor for a commercial ambulance. As a member of the Disaster team I was deployed to Louisiana for 20 days following hurricane Katrina. I worked along side the county Haz-Mat team as a "Tox-Medic" with advanced training in treating injuries from chemical agents. Besides my experience on the on the ambulance I have worked in a number of hospital based offices including dialysis and a sleep lab.

I started my EMS career as a NYS CFR (Certified First Responder)in 1989, an EMT in 1991, a Paramedic since 1993, and a CCU transport paramedic since 2005. I currently hold certification as a: NYS Paramedic, Critical Care Transport Paramedic, ACLS/CPR/PALS certified. Advanced Haz-Mat Life Support certified (AHLS). In the past I have taught CPR and ACLS to my coworkers and the local community.

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