Cuts, Scrapes & Punctures

Cuts, scrapes, and punctures can all result in bleeding.

  • Cuts slice the skin open. Close a cut so it won’t get infected.
  • Scrapes hurt only the top part of your skin. They can hurt more than cuts, but they heal quicker.
  • Punctures stab deep. Leave punctures open so they won’t get infected.

You can treat most cuts, scrapes, and punctures yourself. But you should get emergency care if you are bleeding a lot, or if you are hurt very badly. Blood gets thicker after bleeding for a few minutes. This is called clotting. Clotting slows down bleeding. Press on the cut to help slow down the bleeding. You may have to apply pressure for 10 minutes or more for a bad cut. Sometimes a cut needs stitches. Stitches help the cut heal.

  • Leave the bandage on for 24 hours. Change the bandage every day or two or more often if you need to. Be careful when you take the bandage off. You don’t want to make the cut bleed again. If you have used gauze, wet it before you pull it off.
  • Take aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen sodium for pain. Don’t take aspirin every day unless your doctor tells you to, because taking it too much can keep the blood from clotting. [Note: Do not give aspirin or any medication containing salicylates to anyone 19 years of age or younger, unless directed by a physician, due to its association with Reye’s Syndrome, a potentially fatal condition.]
  • Call your doctor or local health department if you have not had a tetanus shot in the last 10 years. (5 years for a deep puncture.)

For punctures that cause minor bleeding:

  • Let the wound bleed to clean itself out.
  • Remove the object that caused the puncture. Use clean tweezers. Hold a lit match to the ends of the tweezers to sterilize them. [Note: Don’t pull anything out of a puncture wound if blood gushes from it, or if it has been bleeding badly. Get emergency care.]
  • Wash the wound with warm water and soap, or take a bath or shower to clean it.
  • Leave the wound open. Cover it with a bandage if it is big or still bleeds a little.
  • Soak the wound in warm, soapy water 2 to 3 times a day.

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Written by American Institute for Preventive Medicine

Explore Wellness in 2021