How to Care for a Cut

Three Parts:Treating the Wound InitiallyAllowing a Cut to HealCoping with Complications

A cut is usually not a serious medical ailment. However, you should still treat a cut promptly to prevent prevention or complication. Wash the cut, apply antibacterial ointment, and then dress the cut appropriately. Change the dressing regularly to allow the cut to heal. If you notice any complications, such as infection, see a doctor right away.

Part 1
Treating the Wound Initially

  1. Image titled Care for a Cut Step 1
    Wash your hands before treating the cut. You do not want to touch a cut with dirty hands. Before attempting to clean your cut, wash your hands with soap and water.[1]
    • Lather your hands in soap and wash them for about 20 seconds. Make sure to wash under your fingernails and on the backs of your hands.[2]
    • If you have disposable gloves, it's a good idea to put these on in addition to washing your hands. This can help prevent infection.
  2. Image titled Care for a Cut Step 2
    Stop the bleeding if necessary. Usually, a cut should stop bleeding on its own. If it does not stop bleeding on its own, you can control the bleeding by applying direct pressure on the cut. Use a clean cloth or sterile gauze when doing this.[3]
    • Elevate the wound while applying pressure.
    • You do not need to press too hard. Gentle pressure should be enough.
  3. Image titled Care for a Cut Step 3
    Clean the cut. Clean the cut with antibacterial soap and water and remove as much dirt from the cut as possible. You should also clean around the wound with soap and a wash cloth.[4]
    • If any dirt or debris are still in the cut after you wash it, use tweezers to carefully remove it.
    • Just use antibacterial soap. Things like hydrogen peroxide and iodine can irritate the wound.
  4. Image titled Care for a Cut Step 4
    Apply antibiotic. Use an antibiotic ointment (such as Neosporin and Polysporin) to prevent infection. It may burn slightly at first, but the burning will eventually subside.[5]
    • Keep in mind these products do not make the wound heal faster, so don't expect speedy results. They can act to prevent infection, so they are important to use.
    • For some people, antibiotic ointments can cause a mild rash. If a rash appears, stop using the ointment.
  5. Image titled Care for a Cut Step 5
    Cover the cut. Depending on the size of the cut, put on the appropriate sized Band-Aid or bandage over the cut. This can help shield your wound from harmful bacteria. While most cuts should be covered, very minor cuts and scrapes do not require covering.[6]

Part 2
Allowing a Cut to Heal

  1. Image titled Care for a Cut Step 6
    Change your dressing regularly. Change the bandage frequently to prevent infection and moisture from getting into the cut. If you find you're allergic to adhesives found in bandages, use sterile gauze or adhesive free bandages. These can be secured in place with paper tape.[7]
  2. Image titled Care for a Cut Step 7
    Wash the cut each day. When you're changing the bandage, gently wash the wound again. This can help prevent infection. You should use soap and water, and always avoid substances like hydrogen peroxide and iodine.[8]
  3. Image titled Care for a Cut Step 8
    Avoid picking the wound. Eventually, a scab will form. This means the wound is healing. Do not pick at the scab. This can prolong the healing process and leave you with a scar.[9]
    • If you have trouble resisting the temptation to pick, try clipping your nails short or wearing gloves.

Part 3
Coping with Complications

  1. Image titled Care for a Cut Step 9
    Go to the emergency room under certain circumstances. Normally, a cut is not a major medical concern. However, under certain circumstances, you should go to the nearest ER for evaluation.[10]
    • If you can see yellow tissue, you should go to the ER. You should also go to the ER if the skin is separated enough you can push it together.
    • A cut located across a joint requires medical attention.
    • A wound that won't stop bleeding requires medical attention.
    • A wound made by a high impact object, like a bullet, should be evaluated by a doctor.
    • If your wound is caused by an animal or human bite, seek medical help. If a rusty object caused your wound, you also need medical attention.
  2. Image titled Care for a Cut Step 10
    Check if you need a tetanus shot. Look at your vaccination records and see if you're up to date on your tetanus vaccinations. This is particularly important if a wound is very deep or dirty. If you have not had a tetanus shout in the past 5 years, make an appointment to get one.[11]
  3. Image titled Care for a Cut Step 11
    Watch for signs of infection. Redness, increased pain, drainage, swelling, and warmth all indicate an infection. If your cut shows signs of being infected during the healing process, see your doctor.[12]


  • When removing the band aid, to make it lest painful, rub a warm, wet washcloth over the band-aid and the area surrounding it, then SLOWLY peel the band aid off.
  • Never skimp out on the price of antibiotic ointments; getting a good quality one could assist with the healing and infection prevention of the cut.


  • Do not use any antibacterials/ointments around the eyes or mouth. Keep out of reach of children.

Article Info

Categories: Injury and Accidents