There’s no need to panic if you cut yourself with a knife or broken glass, one dermatologist says, since most cuts can be treated at home.
“The most important thing to do is to gently wash the cut to prevent an infection,” said Dr. Laura Ferris, an associate professor of dermatology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
“Beyond that, most minor cuts and scrapes stop bleeding and heal quickly with a few simple steps,” she added in an American Academy of Dermatology news release.
Ferris offers the following advice:
First, wash your hands with soap and water. Then gently wash the cut, using cool or lukewarm water and a mild soap or cleanser to gently remove dirt or debris.
Next, use a clean washcloth or gauze to apply pressure to the cut to stop the bleeding. Maintain the pressure for one to two minutes or until the bleeding stops.
Apply petroleum jelly to help keep the wound moist for faster healing, and continue applying it until the cut heals. Using petroleum jelly from a tube instead of a jar will reduce the risk of dirt contamination and possible infection. Do not apply antibiotics to the cut.
Cover the cut with a sterile bandage to protect it and prevent it from reopening. Change the bandage daily, and keep the cut covered until it heals.
An over-the-counter medication, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), can help relieve pain.
If your cut was caused by a dirty or rusty item, make sure your tetanus vaccination is up to date. If you’re not sure, contact your primary care doctor.
“Most minor cuts heal in one week or less; however, if your cut is longer than three-fourths of an inch, more than a quarter-inch deep, or won’t stop bleeding, seek immediate medical attention,” Ferris said.
“As your cut heals, if you notice any signs of an infection — such as pus or increased redness, swelling or pain — call your primary care doctor or a board-certified dermatologist,” she added.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more on cuts and puncture wounds.