Cuts and scrapes: First aid


Minor cuts and scrapes can often be treated at home. You may need to seek medical care if you notice the injury becomes infected.


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

  1. Wash your hands. This helps avoid infection.
  2. Stop the bleeding. Minor cuts and scrapes usually stop bleeding on their own. If needed, gently press the wound with a clean bandage or cloth. Raise the area until the bleeding stops.
  3. Clean the wound. Rinse the wound with water. Keeping the wound under running water will lower 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. Both can irritate wounds. Remove any dirt or debris with tweezers cleaned with alcohol. See a healthcare professional if you can't remove all debris.
  4. Put on an antibiotic or petroleum jelly. Put on a thin layer of an antibiotic ointment or petroleum jelly to keep the surface moist and help prevent scarring. Ingredients in some antibiotic ointments can cause a mild rash in some people. If you get a rash, stop using the ointment.
  5. Cover the wound. Put on a bandage, rolled gauze or gauze held in place with paper tape. Covering the wound keeps it clean. If you have just a minor scrape or scratch, don't cover it.
  6. Change the covering. Do this at least once a day or whenever the covering becomes wet or dirty.

When to call your doctor

Seek medical care if:

  • See a healthcare professional if you see signs of infection on the skin or near the wound. These include expanding changes in color, increasing pain, drainage, warmth or swelling.
  • See a healthcare professional to get a tetanus shot. A tetanus shot is needed if you haven't had one in the past five years and the wound is deep or dirty.

Last Updated May 1, 2024

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