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How To Clean a Minor Cut or Scrape

Whether from a tumble on the pavement or a slip of the paring knife, scrapes and cuts are a fact of life. Here’s how to cope.


  • : Seek medical attention if bleeding does not slow or stop within 15 minutes of applying direct pressure.
  • Step 1: Wash your hands with soap and warm water, and put on disposable gloves if you have them.
  • TIP: If the cut gapes and needs to be pressed closed, apply a butterfly bandage (for a small, straight-edge cut) or seek medical assistance to see if it needs stitches.
  • Step 2: Dress the wound with an adhesive bandage or a sterile dressing held in place with paper tape. Change the dressing at least once a day, or whenever it gets wet or dirty.
  • Step 3: Use the washcloth to wash the area with water and mild soap. Rinse the soap out of the cut. Use a bucket if you can't reach the sink.
  • FACT: Even without injury, to protect against tetanus the average adult should receive a tetanus booster every 10 years.
  • TIP: If blood soaks through the first layer of dressing, do not remove it. Instead, add another layer on top of it.
  • Step 4: Use gauze or a paper towel to apply direct pressure to the cut to stanch the bleeding. Apply for 15 minutes or until the bleeding has subsided.
  • TIP: If you don't have access to clean water, apply your own saliva to the wound. Research has indicated a protein in saliva helps heal wounds and serves as an antiseptic.
  • Step 5: As soon as the cut has stitched itself together, and infection is less likely, remove the dressing, and apply antibiotic cream daily for the next few days. Wounds actually heal faster when they're exposed to air than when they're covered up.
  • Step 6: When the bleeding has stopped, gently remove any pebbles or large pieces of dirt in the cut with tweezers you've disinfected with rubbing alcohol.
  • Step 7: Pat the cut dry, and apply a thin layer of antibiotic cream.

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