Damage to soft tissues of the mouth, jaws, face, scalp and neck is usually caused by injuries from accidents, although some wounds can be self-inflicted.

Depending on the cause of trauma, only minor damage may result or a serious, potentially life threatening emergency situation – and anything in between. Soft tissue damage may occur in combination with underlying damage to hard tissue (bone fractures).

In an emergency situation, it is international best practice to follow standardised principles of trauma care (Advanced Trauma Life Support, ATLS). This system follows a logical sequence of care which is designed to maximise the efficiency of assessment of a trauma victim, as well as provide priority ranking of potential, life threatening problems and simultaneous resuscitative interventions.

Soft tissue injuries may be divided into several types, these types being roughly indicative of the mechanism of injury. There may be some overlap between types of soft tissue injury or they may be found in combination. Wounds may be categorised as

We include burns in the list of types of soft-tissue wounds as a matter of completeness but note that burn wounds are typically assessed and treated by specialist burns units.

Next section: Damage