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How Do I Give First Aid for Cuts?

Treating cuts promptly and effectively is crucial to prevent infection and promote healing. Start by washing your hands, then apply gentle pressure with a clean cloth to stop bleeding. Clean the wound with water, apply an antibiotic ointment, and cover with a sterile bandage. Remember, deep or persistent wounds require professional care. Wondering when to seek medical attention? Continue reading to ensure you're prepared.
M.C. Huguelet
M.C. Huguelet

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.

An adhesive bandage.
An adhesive bandage.

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.

OTC antibiotic cream.
OTC antibiotic cream.

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.

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Discussion Comments

AnswerMan

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.

Cageybird

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.

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    • An adhesive bandage.
      By: ILYA AKINSHIN
      An adhesive bandage.
    • OTC antibiotic cream.
      By: carroteater
      OTC antibiotic cream.
    • Clean a cut on a finger.
      By: rufar
      Clean a cut on a finger.
    • Sterile gauze can be used to cover a cut.
      By: picsfive
      Sterile gauze can be used to cover a cut.
    • Having a first aid kit on hand can make caring for cuts simple and convenient.
      By: brozova
      Having a first aid kit on hand can make caring for cuts simple and convenient.
    • Any cut or scrape should be cleaned and properly dressed.
      By: wellphoto
      Any cut or scrape should be cleaned and properly dressed.
    • Small cuts can typically be treated at home by stopping the bleeding, cleaning them, and covering them with a bandage.
      By: ia_64
      Small cuts can typically be treated at home by stopping the bleeding, cleaning them, and covering them with a bandage.