- Keep your skin injury clean. Wash your hands before touching the wound, and gently wash the wound daily with mild soap and water to keep out germs. As long as the wound is cleaned daily, an antibiotic ointment isn’t needed.
- Apply plain petroleum jelly to keep the wound moist. Use petroleum jelly from a tube instead of a jar to prevent the spreading of dirt and bacteria.
- Keep your wound covered with an adhesive bandage. For large scrapes, sores or burns, hydrogel or silicone gel sheets may be better.
When to see a doctor
In some cases, you’ll need to see your doctor to treat a wound. Examples of when you may need to seek medical attention include:
- If the wound won’t stop bleeding
- If you can see muscle and fat through the wound
- If you can’t get all the dirt and debris out of it
- If it was caused by an animal bite
- If you have a burn that covers more than 3 inches of skin and is more severe than minor burns
If you experience any of the above, you should call your doctor right away.
Additionally, some wounds or burns may require a tetanus booster shot. This includes wounds that are large, deep, or caused by something rusty.
You should check your vaccination card to see when your last shot was, especially if your burn develops a blister.
If it’s been more than 5 years since your last tetanus shot, contact your doctor to get a booster shot.
“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of all antibiotics used in the U.S. are not needed,” Coley adds. “If you injure your skin and have questions about how to treat it, talk to a board-certified dermatologist.”