A small cut or scrape can be easily treated at home. When caring for a wound, you want to make sure to avoid infection. Always clean it with soap and water to kill bacteria and other germs, and do so gently to avoid irritation. Avoid hydrogen peroxide and iodine; they can cause serious tissue damage.
Call 911 immediately if you have severe bleeding, an abdominal or chest wound, internal bleeding is suspected, or the bleeding won’t stop after 10 minutes.
To stop a wound from bleeding:
- Gently apply direct pressure using a clean cloth, tissue, or sterile gauze.
- Leave the material there if blood soaks through; just use more cloth or gauze on top.
- If an arm or leg is wounded, raise it above the heart to slow the bleeding.
Emergency medical care is necessary for severe bleeding, or if gentle pressure does not stop it. Get medical attention for a child under a year old. If your wound is spurting blood, has jagged edges, is deep or extends across a joint, or was caused by a bite (human or animal), dirty object, projectile, or impalement, go to the emergency room.
If the wound is to your face or genitals, also seek immediate medical care. You might need stiches for wounds longer than ½ inch or, in case of facial wounds, a ¼ inch or longer.
How to Clean a Wound
Rinsing in clean water should remove dirt and particles. Once you wash with soap and water, pat the wound and surrounding area gently until dry. If there’s still any dirt and debris in the wound, remove it with tweezers, sterilizing them with rubbing alcohol first. Visit an emergency room if you can’t remove all the embedded objects.
Protect the Wound
Apply a topical antibiotic once the bleeding stops and the wound is clean. Over-the-counter products such as Neosporin or Polysporin will usually do. Just be sure to follow the instructions on the packaging and consult a doctor if you’re pregnant, nursing, or treating a child’s wound.
Next, apply a clean adhesive bandage (unless it’s a tiny cut or scrape). Larger wounds or those near joints may need to be wrapped, but not so tight it cuts off your circulation. Bandages should be changed daily or when they become wet or dirty. Bandage any area that tends to get dirty or touches clothing.
For more serious wounds, doctors can provide stitches, apply tissue adhesive glue, or use butterfly stitches to hold the wound closed until it heals.
Watch for Infection
Signs of infection include redness, swelling, worsening pain, a warm sensation, or unpleasant odor. If fluid is draining from the wound or you experience fever or chills, also see a doctor to treat the infection. A tetanus vaccine may be recommended for a deep and/or dirty wound, especially if you haven’t had a shot in five years. Other causes for concern include red streaks forming around the wound or the area around it is numb.
Whether you require medical care or not, caring for a wound properly is essential. Making sure a wound won’t scar requires keeping it clean and protected. Scars are permanent, but can be reduced using state-of-the-art laser and RF treatments, which the Laser & Dermatology Institute of California specializes in. If an old wound has scarred and is affecting your appearance, contact LDI of Los Angeles, LDI of Covina, or LDI of Newport Beach for a free consultation and the best skin rejuvenation services in Southern California.