Wound care: Proper cleansing and dressing

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A wound can occur in both children and adults. If wounded, it is vital to cleanse and cover the wound to lower the risk for infection. It is important to note that there are 5 main steps in proper wound care – assessment of the injury, controlling bleeding, irrigation of the wound, lowering the risk for infection and application of a dressing.


Assessment of the wound

The first step is to locate the wound and get rid of any clothing that obstructs the view of the injury. If the bone, muscle or tendon are exposed or if the puncture wound is deep, apply pressure on the wound and seek immediate medical care from a healthcare professional.

A minor scrape or cut might be bleeding significantly, but it usually slows down after a few minutes.

Controlling the bleeding

A minor scrape or cut might be bleeding significantly, but it usually slows down after a few minutes. If the bleeding continues, consult a doctor for further assessment.

The blood flow can be controlled by placing pressure on the vein that supplies blood or a few inches from the wound, towards the body.

Wound irrigation

When the flow of blood has stopped, irrigate or flush the wound using mild soap and clean water. If soap is not available, use clean water.

Scrapes might include debris such as gravel, dirt or glass. Make sure to flush all the particles from the wound. If there are any leftover particles, it increases the risk for infection and they might heal within the body. If the particles could not be removed, consult a doctor.

Lowering the risk for infection

Once the wound has been flushed, apply an antiseptic such as isopropyl alcohol or hydrogen peroxide or an antibiotic spray or ointment.

If an antiseptic is used, place a small amount on a sterile cotton ball. Without contact on the side of the cotton ball that contains the antiseptic, dab onto the cut.

In case an antibiotic ointment is used, apply it on a sterile cotton swab. Without contact with the ointment, dab on directly on the wound in a level coating.

If an antibiotic spray is used, position the container at a suitable gap from the cut and apply a smooth coating on the injury.


Select the ideal dressing based on the site and size of the wound. For small injuries, an adhesive bandage can be used while larger cuts require sterile gauze or gauze pad that is taped on the skin.

If an adhesive bandage is used, open the package and while touching the adhesive region, place it on the wound. Make sure that the adhesive region is not in contact with the wound since this can lead to an infection.

If a gauze from a roll or gauze pad is used, touch only the part of gauze which will not be in direct contact with the cut during application. Secure the edges to the skin with tape.

Quick Note / Disclaimer

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

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