If you get a cut, scrape, or a puncture wound (such as from a nail), what should you do for it?   The best way to clean these injuries is with cool water. You can hold the wound under running water or fill a tub with cool water and pour it from a cup over the wound.  Use soap and a soft washcloth to clean the skin around the wound.     

Don’t panic if a wound bleeds.  Bleeding helps clean them out.  Most small cuts or scrapes will stop bleeding in a short time. Cuts on the face, head or mouth will sometimes bleed a lot because these areas have many blood vessels.  If the wound does not stop bleeding on its own, you may need to use a clean cloth and apply gentle pressure.   If your wound does not require stitches, leave it uncovered to help it stay dry.  Cover with a Band-Aid or gauze if it is in an area that will get dirty or get rubbed by clothing.  You may use antibiotic ointment to help reduce scarring and speed healing.   Leave a scab alone and do not pick at it – it is the body’s way of protecting an injury.  If your wound hasn’t healed after 2 weeks, contact your healthcare provider.  

When do you seek urgent medical care?  If you have any concerns at all about your cut, please seek medical care!  Some wounds can become infected, numb, or causes loss of function. If you get a severe cut and the bleeding does not stop after applying pressure or if the wound is deep or gapes at the edges, you may need stitches.  Stitches cannot be placed in a wound that is more than 12 – 24 hours old.  If you haven’t had a tetanus shot in the past 5 years, it needs to be updated. 

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