Do’s & Don’ts For Cuts, Scrapes & Wounds

    Two tan, square adhesive bandages on a white surfaceWhat’s the proper care for minor cuts and scrapes? Wounds always hurt, but the degree of pain will vary according to the nature, location, and severity of the injury. Minor cuts and scrapes usually don’t require a trip to the emergency room. Yet the right treatment is essential to avoid infection or other complications. These guidelines can help you care for simple wounds.

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    How should I clean a wound?

    The best way to clean a cut, scrape or puncture wound (such as a wound from a nail) is with cool water. You can hold the wound under running water or fill a tub with cool water and pour it from a cup over the wound.

    Use soap and a soft washcloth to clean the skin around the wound. Try to keep soap out of the wound itself because soap can cause irritation. Use tweezers that have been cleaned in isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) to remove any dirt that remains in the wound after washing.

    Even though it may seem that you should use a stronger cleansing solution (such as hydrogen peroxide or iodine), these things may irritate wounds. Ask your family doctor if you feel you must use something other than water.

    What about bleeding?

    Bleeding helps clean out wounds. Most small cuts or scrapes will stop bleeding in a short time. Wounds on the face, head or mouth will sometimes bleed a lot because these areas are rich in blood vessels.

    To stop the bleeding, apply firm but gentle pressure on the cut with a clean cloth, tissue or piece of gauze. If the blood soaks through the gauze or cloth you’re holding over the cut, don’t take it off. Just put more gauze or another cloth on top of what you already have in place and apply more pressure for 20 to 30 minutes.

    If your wound is on an arm or leg, raising it above your heart will also help slow the bleeding.

    Should I use a bandage?

    Leaving a wound uncovered helps it stay dry and helps it heal. If the wound isn’t in an area that will get dirty or be rubbed by clothing, you don’t have to cover it.

    If it’s in an area that will get dirty (such as your hand) or be irritated by clothing (such as your knee), cover it with an adhesive strip (one brand: Band-Aid) or with sterile gauze and adhesive tape. Change the bandage each day to keep the wound clean and dry.

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