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Safety Tips | First aid

Act fast after a cut

June 23, 2014

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Approximately 70,250 cut or laceration cases involving days away from work occurred in the private sector in 2011, according to the 2014 edition of the National Safety Council’s “Injury Facts.” Depending on the severity of the injury, you may be able to treat the injury yourself, or a visit to the emergency department may be needed. The following are first aid tips from the Mayo Clinic regarding treatment of cuts and scrapes:

  • Stop the bleeding. Apply continuous, gentle pressure to a cut or scrape with a clean cloth or bandage for 20 to 30 minutes. Refrain from checking to see if the bleeding has stopped, as this may damage the clot that is forming. If blood continues flowing from the cut, seek medical help.
  • Clean the wound. Rinse it out with water, but avoid using soap, which may cause irritation. Thorough cleaning reduces the risk of infection and tetanus.
  • Apply an antibiotic. After cleaning the wound, apply a thin layer of an antibiotic cream to help keep the surface moist.
  • Cover it up. Bandages can help keep the wound stay clean and keep bacteria out.
  • Change the bandage regularly. Change the dressing every day or if it becomes wet or dirty.
  • Get stitches if needed. If your cut is ¼ inch (6 mm) deep and is gaping or jagged, you likely need stitches. See a doctor immediately – proper closure within a few hours helps reduce the risk of infection.
  • Watch for signs of infection. Visit a doctor if you notice signs such as redness, increasing pain, drainage, warmth or swelling.
  • Get a tetanus shot. Doctors recommend a tetanus shot every 10 years. Deep cuts may prompt your doctor to recommend a tetanus shot booster.