SELF CARE FOR CUTS, SCRAPES AND BURNSWhen Wounds are Skin Deep
Ouch! Scrapes, cuts and burns hurt. They can also become an open door for infections. Sound scary? Don't worry. Most of these injuries are minor and don't need an emergency room visit, stitches or even a doctor's care. Which Wound is Which?
A scrape is when skin is rubbed away leaving nerve endings exposed. There is usually little bleeding.
A cut is when skin separates. Skin edges may be smooth or jagged. Bleeding may be light or heavy. A puncture results when your skin is pierced by a narrow, sharp object. Punctures rarely bleed much.
A burn is a skin injury produced by exposure to heat, certain chemicals or radiation. With a mild burn, skin turns red and may blister.Caring for Cuts and Scrapes
Follow these steps to treat minor cuts, scrapes and puncture wounds. If you're helping someone else, remember to protect yourself from illnesses carried in blood and body fluids: Use latex gloves or whatever else is available (a towel, perhaps) as a barrier between you and the blood.1. Control Bleeding
Apply direct pressure to a cut or scrape to stop bleeding.
Allow a minor puncture wound to stop bleeding on its own, unless the bleeding is heavy. This may help clean out the wound.2. Clean the Wound
Kill germs and remove the dirt by washing the wound with warm water and soap.
Soak a minor puncture wound in warm, sudsy water for several minutes. Repeat this at least 2 times every day.3. Close Edges
Hold the edges of a cut together with a butterfly bandage. This speeds healing.4. Cover the injury
Apply antibiotic ointment.
For a cut or scrape, apply an adhesive a bandage or clean gauze. Tape it in place. This helps reduce infection or re-injury.
Cover a minor puncture with gauze to absorb drainage and let in air to help with healing.
If the wound hurts, try taking a pain reliever such as aspirin or an aspirin substitute (never give aspirin to anyone 18 or younger).Treating Minor Burns
Your first step in treating any burn is to stop the contact between the heat source and your skin. Then follow these steps:
Cool the burn immediately. Otherwise the skin continues to hold heat and will keep burning. Use cloths soaked in cool water, place the burned area under a gentle stream of cool water, or submerge the burn in a full sink or bucket.
Treat a minor burn like you treat a minor cut or scrape. Clean and cover it with a loose dressing.
Do not put butter, oil or ointment on a burn. This only seals in heat.
Don't break blisters or pull off skin from a broken blister. This skin helps protect the healing skin underneath.When to Treat Yourself
Cuts, scrapes and burns are hard to avoid. Luckily, you can usually treat the minor injuries at home. But before you do, use the following checklist to decide if it's okay to treat the injury yourself.
Use self-care if you can check off ALL these statements:
You can control any bleeding
You can move the injured area and you have no numbness
The injury isn't where scarring is a concern, like on your face
You don't have a condition such as diabetes or an immune disorder, which could slow healing
A cut or puncture isn't deep enough to affect muscles, tendons or bones
A scrape covers an area smaller than the size of your palm
A burn is minor, with some redness and possibly blisters. The area burned is smaller than the size of your palmWhen to Call Your Doctor
Cuts, scrapes or burns may threaten your health if they cause severe blood loss or become infected. Call your doctor's surgery if a wound doesn't heal within a couple of weeks.
Get medical help right away if you have any of these problems:
You can't stop the bleeding.
The wound covers a large area, is deep or you can see tendons or bones.
Your ear or eye is injured or burned.
The burn is larger than the size of your palm, or is on your neck, face, foot, groin or the back of your hand.
A puncture wounds is deep or wide or was caused by a dirty or rusty object.
You have signs of infection: fever, pus, pain or redness.
It has been 10 years or more since your last tetanus shot.