Most cuts and grazes are minor and can be easily treated at home.
Stopping the bleeding, cleaning the wound thoroughly and covering it with a plaster or dressing is usually all that's needed.
Minor wounds should start to heal within a few days.
HowÂ to treat cuts and grazes
Stop the bleeding
StopÂ any bleeding before applying a dressing to the wound. Apply pressure to the area using a clean and dry absorbent materialÂ â such as a bandage, towel or handkerchiefÂ â for several minutes.
If the cut is to your hand or arm, raise it above your head to help reduce the flow of blood.
If the injury is to a lower limb, lie down and raise the affected area above the level of your heart.
Clean the wound and apply a dressing
When the wound has stopped bleeding, clean it and cover it with a dressing to help stop it becoming infected.
To do this:
- wash and dry your hands thoroughly
- clean the wound underÂ drinking-qualityÂ running tap waterÂ â avoid using antisepticÂ as it may damage the skin and slow healing
- pat the area dry with a clean towel
- apply a sterile adhesive dressing, such as a plasterÂ âÂ read more about how to apply plasters and other dressings
Keep the dressing clean by changing it as often as necessary. Use waterproof dressings to keep the wound dry while bathing and showering.
You can remove the dressing after a few days, once the wound has closed itself.
Take painkillers if needed
WhenÂ toÂ get medical help
AÂ wound is atÂ risk of infectionÂ if:
- it's been contaminated with dirt, pus or other bodily fluids
- there was something in the wound before it was cleaned, such as gravel or a shard of glass
- itÂ has a jagged edge
- it's longer than 5cm (2 inches)
- it was caused by anÂ animal or human bite
Signs a wound has become infected include:
- swelling, redness and increasingÂ pain in the affected area
- pus forming in or aroundÂ the wound
- feeling generally unwell
- a high temperature (fever) of 38C or above
- swollen glandsÂ under your chin or in your neck, armpits or groin
An infected wound can usually be successfully treated with a short course ofÂ antibiotics.
WhenÂ to go toÂ A&E
Go toÂ your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department as soon as possible if:
- you can't stop the bleeding
- you're bleeding from an arteryÂ â blood from an artery comes out in spurts with each beat of the heart, andÂ is bright red and usually hard to control
- you experience persistent or significant loss of sensation near the wound or you're having trouble moving any body parts
- you have a severe cut to your faceÂ â you may need urgent treatment to prevent scarring
- you have a cut on the palm of your hand and it looks infectedÂ â these types of infection can spread quickly
- there's a possibility a foreign body is still inside the wound
- the wound is very largeÂ or the injury has caused a lot of tissue damage
In A&E, yourÂ wound will be examined to determine whether there's a risk of infection. You may needÂ an injection to prevent tetanus (a bacterial infection), and your wound may beÂ closed with stitches, strips or special glue before a dressing is applied.
If there's a risk of infection, the wound won't usually be closed because this may trapÂ any infection inside. Instead, it will be packed with a non-sticky dressing before being covered withÂ a protective dressing until it's safe to close.