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Do I Need to Treat Paper Cuts?

K.C. Bruning
Updated Feb 09, 2024
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Even though they tend to be minor wounds, it is usually best to treat paper cuts. This is primarily because the cut is the result of foreign matter being introduced into the body, which can cause the spread of bacteria. If a small paper cut is left untreated, it will often heal on its own, but there is always the risk of infection, which can lead to a much more serious condition. Deep paper cuts present a higher risk for infection and usually must be treated promptly.

It is advisable to treat paper cuts if they are painful. Simply cleaning and dressing the wound can speed the healing process, which can also help to reduce pain. Brief application of an ice pack or applying mint gel or other similar products made with the mint plant can help to dull pain as well. Over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen and aspirin can help to treat paper cuts that are extremely painful.

There are several ways to treat paper cuts, but the basic approach tends to be essentially the same. The first step is to clean the wound in order to rinse away any bacteria on the surface. Then the cut may be further treated with products to reduce pain and fight infection. The next step depends upon the depth of the cut. A very light paper cut may not need to be bandaged, but a deeper cut is more likely to need the protection in order to prevent bacteria from entering the bloodstream.

Thoroughly washing with soap and water is usually a sufficient way to clean paper cuts. Antiseptics such as rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, and iodine can also be effective. If the cut is particularly painful, it may be best to clean around the wound.

Once the area around the cut is clean, it can be treated with an antibiotic cream, aloe vera gel or other similar wound treatments. This can help to both speed healing and prevent the growth of bacteria. While this step may not be necessary for a smaller cut, it is often advisable as there is still a possibility of infection.

Then the cut can be covered. How to cover the wound can vary, depending on the location and depth of the cut. In many cases a small bandage will provide sufficient coverage. Deeper cuts or wounds in difficult-to-cover areas may be treated with liquid bandages or gauze and tape.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
K.C. Bruning
By K.C. Bruning
Kendahl Cruver Bruning, a versatile writer and editor, creates engaging content for a wide range of publications and platforms, including WiseGeek. With a degree in English, she crafts compelling blog posts, web copy, resumes, and articles that resonate with readers. Bruning also showcases her passion for writing and learning through her own review site and podcast, offering unique perspectives on various topics.
Discussion Comments
By Buster29 — On Feb 28, 2014

Someone once told me that paper cuts hurt more because you don't expect them to hurt at all. I think he had a point. I can prick my finger on a needle and not feel much more than a quick sting. If I get a paper cut, however, it will hurt for several hours and keep reopening. If I put anything on a paper cut at all, it's a triple action antibacterial ointment and a bandage.

By Phaedrus — On Feb 28, 2014

I remember a nurse telling me that paper cuts were sometimes worse than knife cuts because of the nature of paper. A sharp knife usually creates a cut with clean edges. The edge of a piece of paper, however, often creates a very ragged cut, more like a tear than a slice. It can take longer to heal than a clean cut from a blade, and it may hurt more while it's mending.

K.C. Bruning
K.C. Bruning
Kendahl Cruver Bruning, a versatile writer and editor, creates engaging content for a wide range of publications and...
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