1. Health

Video:How to Dress a Wound

with Rod Brouhard

If you get a minor cut or a wound, you can most often treat it right at home. See how to care for a wound, and learn when you should seek medical attention.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Dress a Wound

Hi, I am Rod Brouhard, your Guide to First Aid at About.com. Minor cuts and abrasions can be treated easily right at home.

Supplies Needed to Treat a Wound

You will simply need soap, water and an adhesive bandage. Depending on the circumstances, you may also want antiseptic ointment.

Blood and Cuts

At first, a little bleeding is a good thing. As blood oozes from the cut, it flushes out dirt and other contaminants. Encourage the bleeding for a few seconds.

If bleeding is bright red or spurting, or if the cut is a deep puncture wound to the head, neck, chest, abdomen, back or pelvis, call 911 and apply pressure with gauze or a cloth to stop the bleeding.

Wash the Wound

For minor cuts, rinse the wound under running water for a couple of minutes to flush dirt or debris out of the cut. Nothing special is needed here; plain water works perfectly fine. Once the cut is rinsed, wash the skin around the cut with soap and warm water. Soap getting into the cut won’t damage the skin, but it does dry out the wound a bit and can sting. Larger particles that don’t rinse away can be removed with a pair of tweezers.

Do not use hydrogen peroxide. There’s no need and hydrogen peroxide might actually damage the skin.

Only cover a cut if it is likely to come in contact with clothing or dirt. Cuts and abrasions left uncovered will heal just fine. The trick is to keep the wound clean.

Stitches and Wounds

If the edges of a cut can not be easily pulled together, or if you can see layers of skin on the walls of a deep cut, you may need stitches.

Ointment and Wounds

Antiseptic ointment is optional, but can be used if the cut is going to be covered. Always put ointment on a cotton ball or clean tissue before applying it to the wound. Applying ointment directly from the container contaminates the container for future use.

Covering Wounds

An adhesive bandage is the best option for covering most cuts. Pull the plastic from one side of the bandage and position it so the pad covers the wound. Pull the other side of the plastic off the bandage and roll it over the wound gently. Don’t put it on too tight – just enough to completely cover the wound.

Determine If the Wound Needs Medical Attention

Seek medical attention for a deep wound if:
  • it has been more than five years since the victim had a tetanus shot
  • it's a laceration with jagged edges or won't close easily
  • the wound is numb
  • the wound is inflamed (swelling and redness to the skin around the cut)
  • the wound is draining pus (yellowish, thick liquid)
Don’t be afraid to call 911 if you believe this is an emergency, and don’t be afraid to call your doctor or go to the emergency room if you’re just not sure.

For more information, visit us on the Web at firstaid.about.com.
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