Cuts and Scrapes

Emergencies & Injuries

CUTS

A cut, or laceration, occurs when the skin is sliced open.

TREATMENT

Home care   Home Care

  1. Assess the degree of bleeding
  2. Attempt to stop the bleeding
To stop minor bleeding:

  • Apply direct pressure over the wound for ten to 15 minutes.
  • Wash the cut well with soap and water once the bleeding stops.

 To stop severe bleeding:

  1. Determine whether the cut requires stitches. Stitches are likely needed for cuts that are a quarter of an inch (0.6cm) deep or gaping; cuts over a joint; cuts on the hand, face, eyelid, or lips; and cuts where bleeding is not easily controlled.
  2. Gently cleanse area with soap and water, taking care to flush out any dirt or other foreign material; pat dry with sterile gauze.
  3. Apply bacitracin and non-adherent sterile dressing.
  4. If needed, use a pain medicine (analgesic) such as ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®) or acetaminophen (Tylenol®, paracetamol) per package instructions.

Professional care    Professional Care

Seek immediate medical attention if:

  • You think a cut may require stitches or if you are uncertain stitches are required. Most lacerations should be stitched within six hours of the injury to prevent infections.
  • The initial cut appears dirty or contains foreign materials such as wood or gravel that you cannot easily wash out
  • You have any signs of infection (redness, pus, swelling, severe pain, or fever).
  • You are uncertain of you tetanus vaccination status.

SCRAPES

A scrape, or abrasion, is a superficial injury to the top layer of skin. Scrapes may initially ooze blood or yellow liquid (serous fluid). Scrapes are high risk for secondary infection, especially staph infections, so need to be washed and covered promptly.

Treatment

Home care   Home Care

  1. Flush with running water. If necessary, carefully attempt to remove large pieces of debris with tweezers.
  2. Gently cleanse area with soap and water, taking care to flush out any dirt or other foreign material; pat dry with sterile gauze.
  3. If needed, apply steady pressure with a sterile or clean gauze to stop bleeding.
  4. Apply bacitracin and non-adherent sterile dressing.
  5. If needed, use a pain medicine (analgesic) such as ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®) or acetaminophen (Tylenol®, paracetamol) per package instructions.

Professional care    Professional Care

Seek medical attention if:

  • You have heavy bleeding or develop any signs of an infection (redness, pus, swelling, severe pain, or fever)
  • You are uncertain about your tetanus vaccination status