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Cuts and Scrapes: What You Can Treat and When You Need a Doctor
Steps to Treat Minor Wounds
- Wash your hands with soap and water before and after treating an injury. If possible, put on disposable nonlatex gloves.
- If there is bleeding, place a clean piece of gauze over the wound. Apply firm, but gentle pressure.
- To cleanse the wound, rinse it under cool water. Use soap and water to clean the wound. Be aware that soap may cause irritation if it gets inside the wound. You do not have to use a stronger cleanser, like rubbing alcohol, to clean the wound.
- Apply antibiotic cream to the wound before putting on a bandage. This cream may help the healing process and reduce the chance of infection.
- Change the bandage every day or whenever it gets wet or dirty.
- Check to make sure the wound is not infected. Tell your doctor if you have increasing pain, swelling, redness, or warmth.
- Allow the scab to fall off by itself. Scabs that are picked take longer to heal. Plus, it may leave a scar.
When to See the Doctor
- An injury that does not stop bleeding after five minutes of steady, firm pressure
- A deep puncture wound or an injury that appears particularly deep or gaping
- An injury that has foreign material embedded in it, such as glass, metal, or wood
- A bite from an animal or a human
- Any injury that shows signs of infection, such as increasing pain, swelling, redness, and warmth
Your First-Aid Kits
- Absorbent compress dressings
- Adhesive bandages in different sizes
- Adhesive cloth tape
- Antibiotic ointment packets
- Antiseptic wipes
- Space blanket
- Breathing barrier for mouth-to-mouth resuscitation
- Instant cold compress
- Nonlatex disposable gloves
- Hydrocortisone cream
- Roller bandage in different sizes
- Sterile gauze pads in different sizes
- Triangular bandages
- First aid book
- Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen
- Antibiotic ointment
- Hypoallergenic adhesive tape
- Scissors and tweezers
- Soap or other agent to clean wounds
- Petroleum jelly or other lubricant
- Sterile gauze pads and bandages in different sizes
- Moist towelettes
American Heart Association http://www.heart.org
American Red Cross http://www.redcross.org
Canadian Red Cross http://www.redcross.ca
Canada Safety Council http://www.safety-council.org
Anatomy of a first aid kit. American Red Cross website. Available at: http://www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family/get-kit/anatomy. Accessed October 30, 2013.
First aid: cuts, scrapes and stitches. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/prevention-wellness/staying-healthy/first-aid/first-aid-cuts-scrapes-and-stitches.html. Updated December 2010. Accessed October 30, 2013.
First aid guide. American Academy of Pediatrics Healthy Children website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/prevention-wellness/staying-healthy/first-aid/first-aid-cuts-scrapes-and-stitches.html. Updated August 7, 2013. Accessed October 30, 2013.
Laceration management. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated January 29, 2013. Accessed October 30, 2013.
Markenson D, Ferguson JD, et al. Part 17: first aid: 2010 American Heart Association and American Red Cross Guidelines for First Aid. Circulation. 2010;122(18 Suppl 3):S934-946.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 10/2013
- Update Date: 10/30/2013