First aid

Updated 03 June 2013

First-aid tips for cuts, scrapes and wounds

Proper treatment administered quickly can prevent infection and promote healing, experts say. Here's how.

People love spending time in the outdoors to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air, but experts warn that this also increases the risk of cuts, scrapes and puncture wounds.

Simple first-aid is often enough to treat cuts and scrapes from outdoor activities. When treating a minor wound, the American College of Emergency Physicians offers the following tips:

  • Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and warm water or use an antibacterial cleanser.
  • Apply direct pressure with a clean cloth, paper towel or piece of gauze to the injured area to stop the bleeding.
  • Clean the wound with cool water and mild soap, and gently dry the area.
  • Apply an antibiotic ointment to the wound to reduce the risk for infection.
  • Cover the wound with a sterile bandage.

  • Wounds that are very large or bleeding excessively.
  • Injuries that are on the face or near a bone.
  • Injuries that have caused people to lose feeling or function in the affected area.
  • Injuries caused by a human or animal bite.
  • Wounds caused by a rusty object.
  • Wounds with objects or debris stuck inside.

The American Academy of Family Physicians provides more first-aid tips for cuts and scrapes.


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