How to Treat Simple Cuts, Scrapes and Burns

If you are unlucky enough to have an open wound like a small cut or scrape on your skin, you should immediately wash your hand and cleanse the wound with clean tap water for a few minutes. Then, using clean cloth or sterile gauze, apply gentle pressure with your hand until the bleeding stops. Most small cuts and scrapes will stop bleeding on their own. Unless you are taking a blood thinner medication, cleansing the wound and applying gentle pressure should be enough to stop the bleeding. During the cleansing process, you should refrain from using iodine, alcohol or hydrogen peroxide since they can irritate the wound.

Then, with a clean tweezer, remove any dirt or debris from the wound. If you can’t remove all the debris, see a physician or qualified health care professional to care for your wound. If you are able to remove all the debris, after cleansing the wound, you should keep it moist and covered to prevent infection. To keep the wound moist, use a small amount of ointment like aquaphor, petrolatum jelly or an antibiotic ointment (i.e. Neosporin). Then cover your moistened wound with a sterile band-aid. Doing this will result in the fastest wound healing possible with minimal scarring. 

You should change the dressing at least once every day or as needed if the dressing becomes dirty or wet. Keep the wound moist with ointment until it heals completely. You should also go to your doctor’s for a tetanus booster if you have not had one in the last 5 years. After the wound heals, use a moisturizer or sunscreen on the scar if the wound is in an area exposed to the sun. You can also use a silicone-based gel or gel sheets to minimize scarring. If you develop abnormal scarring (hypertrophic scar or keloid) please see our Skin Post article on how to treat abnormal scars for tips on how to improve your scar’s appearance. (link to your other article)

If you sustain a superficial burn, cool the burned area with cold running water to reduce further burning and inflammation. Afterwards, cover the burn with a non-stick sterile gauze dressing with some Vaseline, Aquaphor or Neosporin. Avoid using ice water because that can cause frostbite and more skin damage. You should see a physician for any serious injuries, including deeper cuts where you can’t stop the bleeding or any burn that has blisters or is deeper than your superficial skin layer.

While you are caring for your cut, scrape or burn, if at any point it becomes red, warm, swollen, painful or drains fluid, you probably have a skin infection and need to see a physician or qualified health care provider right away. Similarly please see a physician if your wound still hasn’t healed after one week of caring for it or you feel it isn’t healing well at any time during the process. You may need treatment with antibiotics or other therapies.  See disclaimer.

I hope this helps!

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