Did you nick yourself while shaving, or cut your finger instead of that tomato? Not to worry too much, minor scrapes are very common, and usually easy to treat. If your cut is very deep, bleeds heavily, or has an object stuck inside of the cut, seek medical attention immediately. If not, here’s what you can do.
Treating Minor Cuts and Scrapes
If your cut is minor and you don’t need to go to a doctor or emergency room, here’s what you do to treat your cut or scrape:
- Wash your hands – This is important to prevent infection. You should wear protective, disposable gloves as well if you have them.
- Stop the bleeding – Typically, minor cuts or scratches will stop bleeding on their own. If they don’t, you can stop the bleeding by applying soft pressure using a sterile bandage or a clean washcloth. Also, you can elevate the wound to help with the bleeding.
- Apply an antibiotic – Use an antibiotic cream or ointment (like Neosporin or Polysporin, for example). A lot of people think these ointments or creams will make the cut heal faster, but that’s not the case. They do help to prevent nfection and aid in the body’s healing process. If you see a rash forming after using the ointment, stop using the ointment.
- Bandage Your Wound – Covering the cut or scrape is important if it’s a deep cut. Deep cuts need to be protected from harmful bacteria. If it’s just a minor scrape or cut, however, you should leave it uncovered and let it heal on its own. If you do use a bandage, change it daily.
What if your cut is not minor?
How can you tell if your cut is deep enough to warrant stitches? One easy way to tell is if there is muscle or fat exposed and the cut is gaping or jagged. Here’s what you should do if it’s a more serious injury:
- Get Stitches – If you can’t close the wound with a bandage, adhesive strip or butterfly tape, then you’ll likely need stitches. That will require a visit to the doctor’s office or emergency room. You should see a doctor as soon as possible, within a few hours of receiving the cut. This will minimize the risk of infection and reduces scarring.
- Tetanus Shot – If you haven’t had a tetanus shot within the past five years, and your cut is deep and/or “dirty,” then you need to get a tetanus shot. Tetanus is a rare disease that’s caused by a certain bacteria. It infects people through open cuts or wounds.
- Watch Out for Infection – Is your cut or scrape getting redder? Is it swollen or draining fluids? If your cut is doing any of these things, and if it hurts more than it did when the accident happened, it may be getting infected. You should see a doctor before the condition worsens.
Typically, cuts and scrapes can be treated at home and will heal quickly on their own. If the cut won’t close, if the bleeding won’t stop, or if the pain is unbearable and the area is swollen, red or draining, that’s when you need to visit a doctor.