By: Lisa C. Erdelyi, Registered Practical Nurse

Cuts, scrapes and bruises happen. They are a part of living an active life. Knowing how to properly treat minor cuts at home can help prevent a more serious result.

The treatment of any cut has two goals: to stop the bleeding and to prevent infection. Before treating a cut or scrape, wash your hands thoroughly and don’t forget to dry them.

To remove dirt and debris use running water to clean the area along with soap but try not to get any soap in the cut. If you see stuck debris, you can remove it with alcohol-rinsed tweezers if the running water didn’t loosen it. Apply gentle pressure with sterile gauze to help slow blood flow/oozing and promote clotting. If the wound continues to bleed freely, it might require a stitch or two to help keep it closed – in which case, you will need to see a doctor or nurse practitioner.

Once the wound is clean and dry, you can use an antibiotic cream to keep the area moist to promote healing and hopefully prevent scarring. Now you can apply a covering; an adhesive bandage for minor cuts and scrapes or gauze and tape for larger wounds. You will need to change the dressing daily or more often if the cut weeps and soaks the absorbent padding of the dressing. Remember to wash your hands before and after any dressing/bandage changes and to keep the area clean and dry.

Monitor the wound over the next few days for how it’s healing because infections are no joke. Infections can become serious quickly. Some signs of infection are inflammation with redness, swelling, warm to touch, increased pain, tenderness and pus and sometimes even fever. If you suspect an infection, you should visit your doctor or nurse practitioner. It’s also a good idea to see a doctor for puncture wounds. Tetanus boosters are recommended every 10 years to maintain immunity.

Cuts and scrapes are inevitable. But knowing how to deal with them means you can get right back to the fun–perhaps just a little more cautiously this time.