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How Do I Give First Aid for Cuts?

M.C. Huguelet
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Everyone gets a cut now and then, making the ability to give first aid for cuts a valuable skill. The initial step in giving first aid for cuts is stopping any bleeding that might be occurring. Next, a cut should be cleaned and properly dressed. Lastly, one of the most important parts of giving first aid for cuts is being able to recognize when professional medical attention is needed, such as when a cut is very deep, bleeding excessively, filled with debris, or shows signs of infection.

When giving first aid for cuts, you should begin by trying to stop the cuts from bleeding. To encourage a cut to stop bleeding, cover it with a clean cloth and then apply pressure to it using the hand or an elastic bandage. Avoid using a tourniquet or other very constrictive device, as these can cause irreparable damage by depriving a body part of oxygenated blood. Elevating the cut body part above the level of the heart also helps slow bleeding. Many cuts will stop bleeding after five to 30 minutes of pressure and elevation.

After all bleeding has stopped, the next step in giving first aid for cuts is cleaning and dressing the cuts. To clean a cut, simply run it beneath warm water. Avoid using soap, hydrogen peroxide, or alcohol, as these may irritate the cut. Once the cut has been cleaned, dab it with some antibiotic ointment to keep it moisturized. Then, cover the cut with a fresh adhesive bandage or with sterile gauze, and change this dressing at least once each day to discourage infection.

Finally, when giving first aid for cuts, it is extremely important to be able to identify indications that a cut is in need of professional medical attention. A cut that is very deep or that continues to bleed profusely after a period of pressure and elevation most likely requires treatment with stitches. If foreign matter such as dirt, gravel, or splinters has gotten lodged in a cut, it may be susceptible to infection. On a related note, if a cut that you recently treated yourself becomes very red, sore, inflamed, or warm, it may have become infected. If a cut shows any of these symptoms, you should seek treatment from a medical professional as soon as possible to prevent scarring, excessive blood loss, and complications which can accompany untreated infections.

The Health Board 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.
M.C. Huguelet
By M.C. Huguelet
Cate Huguelet, a Chicago-based freelance writer with a passion for storytelling, crafts engaging content for a wide range of publications, including The Health Board. With degrees in Writing and English, she brings a unique perspective and a commitment to clean, precise copy that resonates with readers. Her ability to understand and connect with audiences makes her a valuable asset to any content creation team.
Discussion Comments
By AnswerMan — On May 22, 2014

Sometimes a cut can look worse than it really is, especially if it's a head injury. If you're dealing with a child or a very sensitive adult, you may want to explain that some cuts bleed a lot, but that didn't necessarily mean a trip to the emergency room. Once the bleeding slows down and the excess blood can be cleaned off, the cut itself may not be so bad. A gauze pad with antiseptic cream and medical tape may be all that's required.

By Cageybird — On May 21, 2014

Back in my restaurant days, people doing prep work in the kitchen would get cut just about every day. Most of the time, the cuts were caused by knives, but sometimes people got cut on can lids and meat slicers. If someone got "bit", as we called it, then one of the managers would immediately grab some paper towels and run over to the injured kitchen worker. He or she would ask how it happened, then assess how bad the injury was.

If it was a clean cut, then the manager would run it under warm water until the tear could be seen. He or she would immediately wrap it in paper towels and ask the employee to hold it tight. If it was a very ragged cut or a partial amputation, the manager wouldn't wait to see if it got better on its own. That person was headed to the emergency room immediately. There are times when a cut is clearly bad enough to require professional attention, so all you can do is clean it and stabilize the bleeding with pressure.

M.C. Huguelet
M.C. Huguelet
Cate Huguelet, a Chicago-based freelance writer with a passion for storytelling, crafts engaging content for a wide...
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