Minor Wounds

These guidelines can help you care for minor cuts and scrapes.

Wash your hands. This helps avoid infection.

Stop the bleeding. Minor cuts and scrapes usually stop bleeding on their own. If needed, apply gentle pressure with a clean bandage or cloth and elevate the wound until bleeding stops.

Clean the wound. Rinse the wound with water. Keeping the wound under running tap water will reduce the risk of infection. Wash around the wound with soap. But don’t get soap in the wound. And don’t use hydrogen peroxide or iodine, which can be irritating. Remove any dirt or debris with tweezers cleaned with alcohol. See a doctor if you can’t remove all debris.

Apply an antibiotic cream. Apply a thin layer of antibiotic cream to keep the surface moist and help prevent scarring. Certain ingredients in some ointments can cause a mild rash in some people. If a rash appears, stop using the ointment.

Cover the wound. Apply a sterile dressing. Change the dressing daily or when soiled. When the dressing is changed, clean the site and reapply antibacterial cream. Covering the wound keeps it clean. If the wound is a minor scrape or scratch, leave it uncovered.

Get a tetanus shot. If you have not had a tetanus shot in the past five years and the wound is deep or dirty.

Watch for signs of infection. See a doctor if you see signs of infection on the skin or near the wound, such as redness, increasing pain, drainage, warmth or swelling.