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How Should I Treat Cuts and Scrapes?

Mary McMahon
Updated Feb 05, 2024
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Caring for cuts and scrapes is relatively easy, and prompt care can ensure that these injuries do not become infected. Generally, cuts and scrapes will heal on their own; if a wound becomes larger, hot, extremely painful, or weepy, you may want to seek medical attention. It is also important to see a doctor for injuries caused by animal bites, or wounds with embedded material, as well as deep cuts. In younger patients, make sure to explain what you are doing as you work to make the patient more comfortable with the treatment process.

Start by cleaning the wound. Use warm water and a mild antibacterial soap to wash the injury as well as the surrounding area. While you wash cuts and scrapes, remove any pieces of material stuck in the wound. Pat the area dry, and if it is still bleeding, use direct pressure and elevation above the heart to stop the bleeding. If you want to be extra certain that the injury will not get infected, wipe it with betadine or hydrogen peroxide after washing to flush out unwanted visitors.

After washing, you can apply a small amount of antibacterial ointment or spray to cuts and scrapes. If the site is still bleeding, wait to do this, because the blood will simply flush the ointment away. If cuts and scrapes are in an area which may get dirty or rub against clothing, put a bandage over the site to protect it from the elements. Otherwise, exposure to air can actually help to heal cuts and scrapes.

If you do decide that an injury needs a bandage, remove the bandage at least once a day to clean the wound and check on the healing progress. Also change a bandage if it gets wet. In a case where a band-aid does not fit, use a gauze dressing and surgical tape; keep these supplies around in your first aid kit, as they can be extremely useful. If you leave cuts and scrapes unbandaged, wash and check on them on a daily basis, looking for signs of infection.

Cuts and scrapes do put you at a higher risk for tetanus infection. Tetanus boosters are recommended every 10 years. If you're not sure when your last tetanus injection was, another booster won't hurt, and it can prevent the onset of this painful and difficult condition. Tetanus is a serious concern when your cuts and scrapes are caused by unclean metal and puncture wounds in farmyards and other areas with waste material from humans and animals.

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.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By Oceana — On Jul 27, 2012

My aunt is all into using home remedies for cuts and scrapes. She has five kids, so it is more efficient for her to find natural and cheap ways to doctor them up herself.

She uses honey to help cuts and scrapes heal. She gets the unprocessed kind, because it acts like an antibiotic. It also seals the wound up so that no dirt or germs can get inside.

I think this is an awesome way to treat minor wounds. I have bought some of the honey and started using it myself. I am a little tempted to lick it off, but I find the willpower to leave it in place so that it can do its job.

By seag47 — On Jul 26, 2012

Minor cuts and scrapes actually need to dry out in order to heal. However, larger, deeper ones need to hold moisture so that they don't crack or cause scars.

Any time I have had a significant cut or scraped area on my skin, I have kept antibiotic ointment on it, along with a bandage to cover it up. The bandage locks in the moisture of the ointment, and this makes healing go a lot faster.

I have had some cuts that required stitches, but for the ones that I could treat myself, I just used the moisture and bandage technique. It's always good to be able to avoid paying a medical bill if possible.

By kylee07drg — On Jul 25, 2012

@healthy4life – Liquid bandages are great for some cuts and scrapes. However, depending on where the wound is located, you may need more protection than they can offer.

I scraped the top of my foot on some wood, and this made it really difficult to wear shoes. Normally, I do prefer liquid bandages, but in this case, I needed some soft padding between my foot and the shoe, or otherwise, I would have to go barefoot.

I poured hydrogen peroxide over the scrape and patted it dry a minute later. Then, I placed a flexible fabric bandage over the area and pressed it down to make it stick well. With that bandage in place, I could wear any kind of shoes that I chose.

By healthy4life — On Jul 25, 2012

I love to use liquid bandages for cuts and grazes. Regular bandages tend to wrinkle and fall off if they get wet or if I am very active, and they also make the skin underneath all wrinkly and pale.

Liquid bandages let air get through so that the wound can heal faster. The bottle has a brush attached to the lid, and I just paint the wounded area and let it dry. Once it dries, I can do everything from washing dishes to showering without worrying about it coming off of my skin.

To remove it, I just apply more product and wipe it off quickly. Liquid bandages are so much more convenient and so much less painful to remove than regular bandages.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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