Cuts

A cut, superficial or deeper, goes through the skin and can cause a lot of bleeding. This is especially true for head wounds as they tend to bleed a lot more.

Treatment

Try and assess the severity of the cut, and apply pressure to the cut with a clean cloth. Fingers can be used if a cloth or tissue is not available, but use a barrier such as a latex glove or even plastic bag to avoid potential contamination.

Raise the injured part to slow down blood flow and help control the bleeding. If bleeding does not stop within a few minutes, seek medical treatment as soon as possible.

For minor cuts, ensure that the cut is clean, or if not, clean it with a sterile saline. Wash off all blood from the skin and dispose of soiled materials in a plastic bag. A waterproof dressing can be applied, especially if it’s on a person’s hands as it may get damp or come into contact with food. Children will always feel ‘better’ once a colourful dressing has been applied, and there is a wide range of cartoon printed dressings available. Minor cuts, like a paper cut on the fingers, will heal and scab over without special treatment, although it may be sensitive for a day or two, but a cut in an area that is constantly moving, e.g. the knee joint, may take a bit longer to heal.

Any cut should be kept clean to prevent possible infection until such time as one can see that the edges are closing and healing has started to take place. An antiseptic cream can be used to ensure that the likelihood of germs is greatly reduced.

Grazes

Grazes can also be called scrapes or ‘carpet burns’ and are very common in children. They are very painful as they damage nerve endings in the skin when the top layer(s) of skin is scraped off and the broken skin surface has small bleeding spots where tiny blood vessels are broken. Bleeding is usually not severe with grazes.

Treatment

Before treating any kind of injury, the person administering care should wash their hands with an antibacterial soap.

Apply gentle pressure with a sterile dressing from the first aid kit, or clean paper tissues if those are available. Wash the injured area with soap and clean water. Antiseptic is usually not needed, but if clean water is not available, can be useful. Although covering the graze is not essential, it will hurt less if it is covered for at least a day or so, and children feel more reassured if an injury is covered. An antiseptic cream or ointment can be applied under the dressing to prevent it from sticking to the graze. Superficial grazes tend to heal quickly and if left uncovered, will form a crust that will harden and form a protective barrier between the graze and the outside world. Do try and prevent children picking at the scab, as it will tend to become itchy as it heals.

After an injury, children should be encouraged to lie down and rest if there is discomfort and crying, and if a painkiller is necessary, a paracetamol syrup can be given to soothe the pain. For adults an over the counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen or paracetamol tablets will help relieve the immediate pain.

Infection

If a cut or graze does not show signs of healing within two days, it might be infected and symptoms such as increased pain, swelling, redness, and tenderness around the wound will be present. Clean the cut or graze, apply some antiseptic cream and a dressing, and assess again after a day or so. If it persists, they should be referred to the clinic in the pharmacy or their healthcare professional.

Conclusion

Cuts and grazes are uncomfortable to live with for the first few days, causing some discomfort, but in general they heal fairly quickly and without severe consequences. There is unlikely to be scarring, unless the cut or graze is severe, in which case a healthcare professional should be looking after the patient in any case.

It is however, very important to ensure that no infection occurs because a small irritation can then develop into a health risk issue.

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