Expert Advice

What is the best way to treat a cut?

What is the best way to treat a cut?
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First stop the bleeding, then think "CDP": clean, dress, protect.

Stop the bleeding. Almost all bleeding can be stopped by applying direct pressure with clean gauze for about five minutes. If you're taking blood thinners like Warfarin, you may bleed longer. If bleeding starts again after five minutes of continuous pressure, reapply pressure and go to the emergency room. If the cut is more than about a quarter inch deep or more than one inch long, you may need stitches.

Clean the cut. Flush the wound with plain water and wash with soap to keep bacteria from thriving in the cut. Avoid using perfumed soaps, which may irritate cut skin.

Dress with ointment. For antibiotic ointment, use bacitracin. Do not use triple antibiotics since they contain neomycin, which causes an allergic reaction in some people. If you have pain, redness, swelling, or if pus appears around the wound 48 hours after you are injured, go to the emergency room. Infected cuts are more difficult to care for and may leave scars.

Protect with a bandage. After applying medicament to the wound, cover it with a standard bandage. If you prefer your dressing and coverage in one, try cyanoacrylate tissue adhesives or liquid stitches. They bring the edges of the cut together and form a protective barrier. It dries clear, so you can keep an eye on the healing process. Just don't use liquid stitches with ointment or a bandage.

Stay healthy. Update your tetanus booster every ten years. If you have diabetes, your wound may heal more slowly so attend to it carefully.