First aid: How to properly care for wounds

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Wounds are part of daily life whether at home, school or in the workplace. Since they are common and can occur unexpectedly, it is vital that you are prepared to properly handle them.

How to clean wounds

The ideal way to clean a scrape, cut or puncture wound is to use cool water. Position the wound under flowing water or fill a basin with cool water and use a cup to pour water over the wound.

Utilize a soap and towel to cleanse the skin around the wound. Make sure that soap is kept out of the wound to prevent irritation. Tweezers sterilized using isopropyl alcohol can be used to get rid of any dirt or debris in the wound after cleansing.

Care for bleeding

Wound care
Control the bleeding by applying fixed but gentle pressure over the cut using a clean towel or gauze.

Bleeding can help clean out wounds. Most small-sized scrapes or cuts stop bleeding in a short time. When it comes to wounds on the head, face or mouth, it oftentimes causes significant bleeding since these areas are rich in blood vessels.

Control the bleeding by applying fixed but gentle pressure over the cut using a clean towel or gauze. If the blood seeps through the cloth or gauze held over the cut, do not remove it. Simply add another gauze or cloth on top and apply more pressure for 20-30 minutes.

If the wound is on the leg or arm, elevate it above the level of the heart to slow down the bleeding.

When to use a bandage

A wound left uncovered will help it stay dry and allow it to heal. In case the wound is not in an area prone to be rubbed on by clothing, there is no need to cover it.

If in an area that is likely to get dirty or irritated by clothing, it should be covered using an adhesive strip or sterile gauze and adhesive tape. Make sure that the bandage is changed to keep the wound dry and clean.

When to use an antibiotic ointment

Antibiotic ointments promote the healing process by preventing infection and keeping the wound moist and clean.

If there are stitches, the doctor will recommend an antibiotic ointment. Most minor scrapes and cuts heal well without requiring an ointment, but can help the wound close up and minimize scarring.

Quick Note / Disclaimer

The material posted on this page on wound care is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to properly provide wound care for minor wounds at home, register for a first aid and CPR course with Victoria First Aid.

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