Scrapes, cuts, and gashes are not only painful but also can allow dangerous infections to set in. When you or a loved one suffers from a cut or scrape, it is critical to properly treat the wound to keep it clean and allow it to heal. Proper wound care allows your body to get to work cleaning the area, repairing tissues, and fighting off infection. While you should seek medical attention for wounds that are deep or cover a large area of your body, you can treat smaller injuries yourself.
10. When to Seek Medical Treatment
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), there are certain signs that cuts or abrasions should be treated professionally. The AAFP advises calling your doctor if the wound is jagged or has rough edges, is on your face, or contains dirt that you cannot wash out. Additionally, if the injury is deep and you can see bone, muscle, or fatty tissue, you should seek medical attention. Furthermore, you should call your doctor or get to an emergency room if you are unable to stop the bleeding by applying pressure.
9. Clean with Soap and Water
Whether you cut yourself chopping vegetables or pick up some road rash by falling off your bike, you can use soap and water to cleanse your wound. Gently use soap and running water to clean the area and remove any dirt or debris that may have become embedded in the wound. Avoid using hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol on the area. Dr. Rachel Rader from Davis Regional Medical Center states that these harsh antiseptics can destroy healthy cells and delay healing. Do use rubbing alcohol to clean any tools, such as tweezers, you may need for removing dirt particles.
8. Apply Antibacterial Ointment
Applying an antibacterial ointment will prevent infection. The antibacterial ointment Neosporin contains three ingredients: neomycin, bacitracin, and polymyxin. The ointment will also create a barrier that seals in moisture and keeps germs from penetrating the cut or scrape. This barrier allows your body to get to work repairing damaged tissues. After cleaning the cut or abrasion, gently pat it dry with a clean cloth. Then, apply a thin layer of ointment to the area with your fingertip. More does not mean better; a little dab spread thinly over the wound should do the trick.
7. Keep It Moist
Previously, the medical community believed that allowing a wound to air dry and form a protective scab was the best remedy for a weepy wound. However, recent evidence suggests that wounds heal more quickly if they are kept moist. According to a report in Advanced Wound Care, wet treatment of wounds allows skin and tissue cells to regenerate more rapidly and leaves behind less scarring. After applying a bacterial ointment, cover your wound with a light dressing to protect the area and hold in moisture.
6. Cover for Protection
Do use a bandage or dressing to keep your cut or abrasion moist and protected from the environment. While moisture helps the wound heal more quickly, avoid introducing dirty water to your cut, which will allow germs to grow and fester. For small cuts, an adhesive bandage may be all you need. For slightly larger areas, you may want to apply a piece of gauze held in place with medical tape. The antibacterial ointment you apply will prevent the dressing from sticking to the wound.
5. Change Your Bandage Daily
According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, you should change your bandage once each day. Change the bandage more often if it becomes wet, dirty, or damaged. Avoid ripping off your bandage or medical tape quickly, as the sudden tearing motion risks reopening your sore. Instead, grip the edge of the adhesive and pull slowly and carefully. If necessary, use warm water to soak the sides of the bandage to ease removal and avoid tearing off a layer of skin.
4. Keep the Area Clean
Allow your wound time to fully heal by keeping the area clean. Depending on the severity of the injury, you may want to avoid soaking in a bathtub, swimming, or participating in sports that may introduce dirt and bacteria to the wound. Soaking in a hot tub, swimming pool, or jacuzzi can create an overly wet environment that allows bacteria to thrive. If you do spend time in the water or sliding into first base, make sure to replace your bandage to keep the area clean.
3. Refrain from Picking at Scabs
If your wound does develop a scab, avoid picking at the area. A scab forms when your body makes platelets that allow your blood to clot and form a protective layer over a cut or scratch. As your body begins the repair process beneath this protective covering, you may notice itching. Refrain from scratching or picking at the site of a scab. Picking off this coating can delay the healing process and contribute to the formation of scarring. Instead, leave the crust alone. It will fall off by itself in a week or so when its job is done.Related: 15 Things Emergency Room Staff Wish You Knew
2. Save Butter for Cooking
You may have heard that butter is a good item to spread on burns. However, this old wives’ tale is best ignored. When you suffer a burn, your best course of action is to allow the skin to cool down. Applying butter or greasy ointments to an injury traps heat in the area and can lead to further skin damage. For minor burns that don’t require emergency medical treatment, the Mayo Clinic advises holding the burned skin under cool running water before applying moisturizer and a bandage.
1. Watch for Signs of Infection
Sometimes a cut, scrape, or scratch can become infected. According to Medline Plus, signs that a wound is infected may include redness, pain, and drainage from the area. Drainage from the injury may be yellow, green, or clear. Fever and persistent pain are other signs of infection. Advanced Tissue warns that if the area becomes swollen or hot to the touch, you may have an infection. Furthermore, red streaks that extend from the cut are known as lymphangitis and indicate a spreading infection.Related: 9 Life-Threatening Conditions That May Present with Skin Rashes