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Caring for Cuts and Scrapes

Here are some basic guidelines to care for a cut or scrape at home:

  • Apply pressure on the area with a tissue, gauze pad, or clean cloth to stop any bleeding. The bleeding should stop after a few minutes, but if it soaks through the gauze or cloth, add more gauze or and apply more pressure. Don’t remove the gauze until you’ve applied pressure for several minutes. Removing the cloth too soon will break the clot that is forming.  If blood spurts from the wound, or it does not stop bleeding after 10 minutes of pressure, seek medical help; you may need stitches.
  • After the bleeding has stopped, rinse the cut thoroughly with cool water.
  • Clean the skin around the wound with mild soap and a soft cloth. Never use hydrogen peroxide or iodine.
  • Use tweezers cleaned in alcohol to remove any gravel, dirt, glass or other foreign matter that’s still in the wound.
  • If the wound was dirty, apply antibiotic ointment to help prevent infection and keep the wound moist to assist the healing process.
  • Leave a cut or scrape uncovered to allow it to stay dry so it can heal faster. If the cut or scrape is in an area that will get dirty or irritated by clothing, cover it with an adhesive strip.
  • If a bandage is used, change it daily -- or sooner, if it becomes dirty or wet -- to keep the wound clean and dry.

Most cuts and scrapes can be safely treated at home, but in some cases they may need medical attention to help reduce infection and speed the healing process.

Here are some guidelines on how to determine if a cut or scrape needs immediate medical attention:

  • The wound is from a human or animal bite.
  • It is deep enough to see fat, muscle, or bone.
  • It has jagged edges or edges that are far apart; or the edges gape open.
  • It is a long cut or blood is spurting from it.
  • It is on the face, wrist, hand, or finger; and joints aren’t working.
  • It is difficult to remove any dirt that is in the cut or scrape.
  • The cut becomes tender, inflamed or drains a thick, creamy, grayish fluid.
  • You develop a fever of more than 100.4°Fahrenheit (38° Celsius).
  • The area around the cut feels numb.
  • Red streaks form near the cut.
  • It’s a puncture wound or deep cut and you haven't had a tetanus shot in the last 5 years.

Options to Request an Appointment

If your situation is an emergency, call 911.