How to Clean a Wound

Minor cuts and scrapes are a part of everyday life, especially for parents with young children. Knowing how to properly clean and disinfect a wound is fundamental to staying healthy. Here’s how to do it.

When to Seek Medical Assistance

Certain wounds need to be cleaned, disinfected, and cared for by a medical professional. If you feel uneasy about the care of a wound, trust your instinct and seek help immediately. The following list provides general precautions on when to seek immediate medical attention.

  • Any cuts on babies, especially within the first year
  • Deep or gaping cuts or stabs
  • Cuts across joints or tendons
  • Excessive or persistent bleeding that does not stop with gentle pressure
  • If the wound was caused due to a projectile
  • If the wound was caused due to a dirty or rusty object
  • If you were impaled
  • If the wound has jagged edges
  • If the wound was caused by a bite, human or animal
  • Any cuts to the genitals or face
  • If, after you have cleaned the wound, you notice redness or swelling
  • Increasing pain
  • Fever or chills
  • Unpleasant odors, unusual looking, or substantial amounts of discharge
  • The skin surrounding the wound site is warm to the touch

Prepare Well

The most effective way to prevent infection is to not introduce more dirt and bacteria that may be on our hands. Wash your hands with lukewarm water and soap or use a hand sanitizer, then put on disposable gloves if available. Extra credit if you use hand sanitizer on the gloves.

Apply Gentle Pressure

Using a clean cloth or sterile gauze, apply gentle pressure on the wound. Small wounds may not require pressure at all. If the wound is oozing through the cloth or gauze, leave the covering and apply another layer of cloth or gauze. Elevate the affected body part if possible. Seek medical assistance immediately if you are unable to control the bleeding.

Rinse Well

Using clean water, rinse the wound of loose dirt or debris. Refrain from using soap on the wound. It may cause irritation and pain. Use a clean cloth and mild soap or saline solution for wounds to gently clean the skin around the wound. If the wound can’t be cleaned, seek medical help immediately.


Dressing the Wound

Small scrapes and cuts may just need to be cleaned and left alone to heal. Avoid picking at the scab and keep the area clean.

Bigger scrapes and wounds may be helped to heal by applying Antibiotic Cream or Ointment. After applying the cream or ointment, place a clean, sterile, non-stick bandage. Change the bandage at least once a day or when it gets wet or dirty.

Continue keeping the wound area clean and dry during the healing process. By following these steps, you will be prepared for life’s scrapes and cuts.


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