Small dangers that can result in minor cuts and scrapes are common. A slight lapse in concentration can result in a cut finger, scraped knee, or twisted ankle. While minor cuts and grazes are easy to deal with, others can cause serious injuries such as fractures or ruptured muscles. It's important to seek medical assistance if you're experiencing severe pain, heavy bleeding, or are unsure about the situation.
What to Do after You Get Cuts Or Scrapes?
Clean The Cut:
- Wash your hands with soap and water first.
- Rinse the cut using cool water to remove dirt or debris. Hold the area under running water or pour clean water using a cup.
- Stronger cleaning solutions, such as hydrogen peroxide, iodine, or rubbing alcohol, should not be used on minor cuts and scrapes as they may aggravate the wound.
Stop The Bleeding:
- A small amount of blood is normal. Minor wounds and abrasions usually heal on their own, but cuts on the head and hands may bleed more due to the presence of more blood vessels.
- Use a clean cloth or gauze to apply firm, direct pressure to stop the bleeding. Continue to apply consistent pressure.
- Raising the cloth or gauze to check on the wound may cause the lesion to bleed again. If the blood leaks through the bandage, add more on top and continue to apply pressure.
- If the cut is on your hand or arm, raise it above your head to help control the bleeding.
Cover The Cut:
- Once the bleeding has stopped and the incision is clean, apply a sterile bandage or gauze pad and tape to cover it.
- If the cut is minor and in a location that won't be soiled or rubbed by your clothes, you can leave it uncovered. However, covering the wound is a good idea to help prevent infection or reopening of the incision.
- Replace the dressing or bandage daily or more frequently, depending on how often it becomes dirty.
- Apply a small amount of antibiotic ointment before applying the bandage or gauze dressing to keep cuts and scrapes clean and moist and prevent scarring.
Home Remedies For Cuts And Scrapes
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, minor cuts can be safely treated at home. Here's how to determine if a cut requires medical treatment:
- If the cut is deep enough to reveal fat, muscle, or bone.
- If the wound has jagged edges or edges that are far apart.
- If the wound is large, or if blood is flowing or spurting from it.
For minor cuts, follow these steps:
- Apply pressure to the wounded area for a few minutes using a tissue, gauze pad, or clean towel to stop the bleeding.
- Add more gauze or another cloth and apply extra pressure if the blood soaks through it.
- Remove the gauze or towel only after you've applied pressure for several minutes, and observe if the bleeding has stopped (removing the cloth too frequently will cause the clot to break).
- Seek medical attention if blood bursts from the cut or if it does not stop bleeding after 10 to 15 minutes of pressure. You may require stitches.
- After the bleeding has stopped, clean the wound with cool water thoroughly. You can run water over the wound or pour water from a cup. This may result in some more bleeding, if so, continue to apply pressure as before.
- Clean the skin around the wound with soap and wipe it using a gentle washcloth. Keep soap away from the wound since it can cause inflammation. Hydrogen peroxide and iodine should not be applied directly to the wound as they are toxic to live cells.
- To remove any leftover debris, glass, grit, or foreign materials from the wound, use tweezers cleaned with rubbing alcohol.
Symptoms of Cuts and Scrapes
The symptoms of cuts and scrapes include:
- Redness or swelling around the wound
- Pain or irritation at the skin's surface
Risk Factors From Cuts And Scrapes
Risk factors from cuts and scrapes include:
- Infection is perhaps the most serious risk when dealing with cuts. The skin acts as a barrier against bacteria and other foreign invaders. When the skin is open, bacteria can enter and multiply, causing an infection. Infected wounds may ooze pus and are typically warm and painful. A fever may also develop. Infections can occur in soft tissues, bones, and organs.
- An infection slows the healing of a wound, so it's important to properly treat wounds to avoid infection.
- Gangrene can develop when the blood supply to a part of the body is cut off. This can be caused by an injury, an infection, or an underlying condition that affects circulation.
- Sepsis is the body's extreme response to an infection. It is a life-threatening medical situation. Sepsis occurs when an existing infection sets off a chain reaction throughout the body. Sepsis can be caused by infections in the lungs, urinary tract, skin injuries, or gastrointestinal tract.
When to Visit the Doctor?
Most minor cuts and abrasions do not require medical attention. However, you should contact your doctor if:
- The wound is on your face.
- The cut's margins are ragged or gape open, the incision is deep (1/4 inch or more), or fat or muscle is visible. These are indications that you may require stitches.
- If you can't remove all the dirt or debris from the wound because it was caused by something dirty or rusted, it may cause a serious infection.
- You have a puncture or cut and have not received a tetanus injection in the last 5 years.
- The wound is the result of an animal or human bite.
- The affected area is numb.
Medical Treatments for Cuts and Scrapes
Depending on the severity of the cut or scratch, there are various treatment options available to speed up the healing process. These include:
- Wound care drugs are available over-the-counter and by prescription. Antibiotic ointments can prevent infection, painkillers can help reduce discomfort and manage inflammation surrounding the wound, and topical lotions can be used to avoid swelling.
- A cut may require healing stitches if it causes a large, open wound. If the wound becomes infected beyond repair, the affected region may need to be removed.
Time to recover:
- Most wounds and scratches heal quickly and do not require bandaging. They typically heal within 3 to 7 days. A large, deep scrape may take up to two weeks to heal. Some scrapes may also develop a scab.