Cuts - Home Treatment
Minor cuts usually can be treated
at home. If you do not have an increased chance of getting an infection, you do
not have other injuries, and you do not need a tetanus shot or evaluation by a doctor, you can clean and bandage a cut at home. Home treatment can help
prevent infection and promote healing.
The American Red Cross recommends that everyone use blood and body fluid precautions with first aid treatment.
Stop the bleeding with direct pressure
to the wound. For more information, see
how to stop bleeding .
Nonprescription products are available to be applied to the
skin to help stop mild bleeding of minor cuts, lacerations, or abrasions.
Before you buy or use one, be sure to read the label carefully and follow the
label's instructions when you apply the product.
After you have
stopped the bleeding, check your symptoms to determine if and
when you need to see your doctor.
Clean the wound
Clean the wound as soon as possible
to reduce the chance of infection, scarring, and tattooing of the skin from
dirt left in the wound.
- Wash the wound for 5 minutes with large amounts
of cool water and soap (mild dishwashing soap, such as Ivory, works well). For
more information, see
how to clean a wound. Some nonprescription products are available for wound
cleaning that numb the area so that cleaning doesn't hurt as much. Be sure to
read the product label for correct use.
- Do not use rubbing alcohol,
hydrogen peroxide, iodine, or Mercurochrome, which can harm the tissue and slow
Stitches, staples, or skin adhesives (also called liquid stitches)
Determine whether your wound needs to be closed by a
doctor. For more information, see
Are Stitches, Staples, or Skin Adhesives Necessary?
will tell you how to
take care of your stitches or staples and when to
return to have them removed.
Skin adhesives usually do not need to be removed, but your doctor may wish to
see you to check on the wound. Be sure to carefully follow your doctor's
instructions. If you are unsure of how to care for your wound or have
questions, call your doctor for instructions.
Consider applying a bandage
Most cuts heal well and
may not need a bandage. You may need to protect the cut from dirt and
irritation. It is important to clean the cut thoroughly before bandaging it to
reduce the risk of infection occurring under the bandage.
- Select the bandage carefully. There are many
products available. Liquid skin bandages and moisture-enhancing bandages are
available with other first aid products. Before you buy or use one, be sure to
read the label carefully, and follow the label's instructions when you apply
- If you use a cloth-like bandage, apply a clean bandage
when it gets wet or soiled to further help prevent infection. If a bandage is
stuck to a scab, soak it in warm water to soften the scab and make the bandage
easier to remove. If available, use a nonstick dressing. There are many bandage
products available. Be sure to read the product label for correct
- Watch for
signs of infection. If you have an infection under a
bandage, a visit to your doctor may be needed.
- An antibiotic
ointment, such as polymyxin B sulfate (for example, Polysporin) or bacitracin,
will keep the bandage from sticking to the wound. Apply the ointment lightly to
the wound. Antibiotic ointments have not been shown to improve healing. Be sure
to read the product label about skin sensitivity. If you have a skin rash or
itching under the bandage, stop using the ointment. The rash may be caused by
an allergic reaction to the ointment.
- Use an adhesive strip to
hold the edges of a wound together. Always put an adhesive strip across a wound
to hold the edges together, not lengthwise. You can
make a butterfly bandage at home or purchase one to help hold the skin edges
- Determine whether you need a
- You may have a localized
reaction to a tetanus shot. Symptoms include warmth, swelling, and redness at
the injection site. A fever of up to
100 A?F (37.8 A?C) may occur. Home
treatment can help reduce the discomfort.