Tripping and falling are unfortunate but common events, and so are the cuts and scrapes that go along with them. If you’ve ever fallen down, then you know all too well the stinging pain and discomfort it can cause.
It’s important to clean and dress cuts, scrapes and open wounds properly, or they could become more than just an uncomfortable nuisance. In fact, for people with compromised immune systems, diabetes or other conditions, a wound can quickly become a serious problem.
Proper wound care cannot only help you lower your risk of infection; it can also help minimize scarring. If your injury is deep, very painful, requires stitches or becomes infected, seek immediate medical care and follow your doctor’s advice.
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Steps for treating bleeding wounds, cuts and scrapes
The National Institutes of Health offers the following first aid tips for external bleeding, (including some cases which are more severe than a minor cut):
- Keep calm. Reassure the person if they are frightened by the sight of blood.
- Wash it. Wash the wound with soap and warm water and pat it dry.
- Lay down. Raise they part of the body that is bleeding, if possible.
- Remove loose dirt and debris.
- Do not remove foreign objects in the wound that are stuck in the body. Taking out something like a knife or stick could result in additional damage and bleeding. Wrap the object with padding and bandages and fix it place with tape.
- Apply direct pressure, preferably with a sterile bandage or clean cloth.
- Maintain the pressure until the bleeding stops. Keep the dressing in place and wrap it with tape or a clean piece of clothing when the bleeding has stopped.
- Seek medical attention right away if the bleeding does not stop and seeps through the dressing. If the bleeding is severe, get emergency help.
Over-the-counter antibiotic ointments can be applied to the skin to help fight germs, keep the dressing from sticking to the wound and minimize scabbing and scarring by keeping it moist.
Change the bandage every day and each time it becomes wet or dirty. When removing old dressing, be careful not to reopen the wound. It’s also important to look for signs of infection (e.g., drainage, redness, warmth, swelling, odor or excessive fluid).
Ask your doctor if you need a tetanus shot. You may need a booster if it has been more than five years since your last shot.
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What goes into a first-rate first-aid kit
It’s a good idea to keep a fully stocked first-aid kit in your home, office and car, especially if you have active children. Here are the essential items you should have on-hand to treat minor cuts and scrapes:
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Need to see a provider today? Providence Express Care and Urgent Care clinics offer same-day appointments and extended hours for many common conditions, including cuts and scrapes.
Looking for a primary care provider for your family? Find a PSJH physician near you:
- Providence Health Plan
- Providence Health Assurance
- St. Joseph Health (CA, TX)
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This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.