We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

Is It Healthy to Let Cuts Air out?

Tricia Christensen
By
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

There’s an ongoing debate about whether letting cuts air out is healthier and promotes faster healing time than bandaging cuts and using antibiotic ointment. In general, the medical community tends to encourage protecting cuts, and using antibiotic ointment, particularly to keep wounds from scarring and getting infected. It largely depends on the size of the cut. A tiny scrape may merely require a little cleaning, since these can heal virtually overnight. It may be riskier to let cuts air out that are much larger.

The principal risks of small cuts are infection and scarring. There are greater risks if you have conditions like diabetes and suffer small cuts to feet, since circulation to the lower extremities is impaired. If you suffer from diabetes, be sure to get instruction from your physician about care of any injuries to the feet.

In general, it is medically accepted that cleaning cuts, treating them with antibiotic ointment and then covering them with a bandage will reduce risk of scarring and infection. If you want to protect yourself from scarring from small cuts, you shouldn’t expose cuts to air. There’s more debate about whether antibiotic ointment is useful or effective.

In most cases, antibiotic ointment may not harm, but won’t accelerate wound healing. It can prevent some but not all infections. Many medical practitioners suggest its use only when cuts are severe. Most agree, however that to let cuts air out without protective bandaging tends to create greater risk of reinjury and infection. After washing a cut, using an appropriate sterile bandage to cover it, will reduce the chance of breaking the cut open again, and will help keep it from getting dirty. Bandages should be changed at least once a day, unless a physician otherwise instructs you. If you plan to do any work like gardening or cooking, and you have a cut on your hands or fingers, consider wearing protective gloves too.

The body does create its own protection of cuts or openings of the skin by forming scabs. When these scabs first form, they’re fairly vulnerable, and can easily be dislodged. After a few days, a scab hardens, and is a natural bandage. At this point, to let cuts air out is generally fine, since a scab protects your skin. If the cut is very large, though, or in an area of the body where the scab might break open, such as at a knee joint or elbow, it might be a good idea to keep providing the extra protection of a bandage.

Very small abrasions that cover an uneven surface area, as from a rug burn or a fall on asphalt, are extremely hard to cover with bandages. If you’ve got tiny scrapes all over a knee or shin, bandages can hurt more than they help, since you may have to attach part of the adhesive to the injured skin. Pulling these off can be painful and re-damage the injured area.

As long as these are surface cuts, to let cuts air out is usually fine after the area has been appropriately cleaned. If you’d like to use an antiseptic or antibiotic spray, these are both fine choices, and dry quicker than an antibiotic ointment. Many also have a mild topical pain reliever, which can reduce discomfort of these types of cuts.

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.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By doppler — On Sep 20, 2010

@abiane - I really don't like gauze. Even though the packaging may state that it won't stick to open wounds it always does with me and I really hate that because it just opens the wound right back up. I will hang tight with my "air out factor" until I can find a better solution.

By abiane — On Sep 20, 2010

@doppler - I am on the other side of the spectrum, I think. While airing out cuts might seems like a good idea, I think that you could get the same effect with a breathable gauze bandage that would allow the cut to "breathe" so to speak.

By doppler — On Sep 20, 2010

I wholeheartedly believe that letting cuts air out is a good thing. When you bandage a cut right away you end up locking in moisture and it just looks gross. Especially if you are concerned with an infection, it's a great idea to let the cut air for at least one day. You shouldn't keep it bandaged up in the shower, either.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia...
Learn more
The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.