Everyone gets minor cuts and abrasions once in a while – anything from scraped knees to a cut finger. If a cut concerns you, visit your local MedExpress medical center for a professional evaluation.

Is The Cut Serious?

It can be tricky to figure out if a cut is serious and needs stitches or other medical treatment.

To help you decide if a cut needs a medical evaluation, here are some signs and symptoms to look for:

  • The wound is deep enough to expose the dermis (the layer of skin beneath the outermost layer of skin).
  • The cut is too large to easily press the edges together. 
  • It is from a bite (animal or human).
  • The cut is contaminated or was caused by a rusty object. 
  • The wound is bleeding profusely and will not slow down after applying pressure. 

Seeking Medical Care For A Cut

If you do seek medical care for your cut, here are some guidelines to help treatment:

  • Do not remove any object, such as a stick, that is stuck in the wound.
  • Clean the wound, if possible, with some water and diluted liquid soap. Contrary to popular thought, hydrogen peroxide is not good for cleaning wounds, since it can damage the tissue. 
  • Apply pressure to the cut and try to elevate it. This will help slow the bleeding. 

A child sitting by his bicycle helmet on an examination table with one pant leg rolled up above his knee 

Minor Cuts and Scrapes

While minor cuts and scrapes don’t always require professional medical treatment, it is important to use proper care to avoid infections or other complications. 

Stop the bleeding – If the wound doesn’t stop bleeding on its own, apply continuous, gentle pressure with a clean bandage for 20 to 30 minutes. If the bleeding continues, seek immediate medical treatment.

Clean the wound – Rinse the wound with water and diluted liquid soap. If there is dirt or debris embedded in the wound after washing, visit a provider at MedExpress, who can properly attend to the cleaning. Thorough wound cleaning reduces the risk of infection and tetanus.

Apply an antibiotic – Once the wound is clean, apply a thin layer of antibiotic ointment or cream. This keeps the surface moist, reduces risk of infection, and helps your body heal more efficiently.

Cover the wound – A bandage helps keep fresh wounds clean and bacteria-free. Change the bandage daily, or if it gets dirty or wet. Once the wound begins to heal, exposing it to air speeds up the healing process. 

Watch for infection – If you notice the wound isn’t healing, or if there is increased pain, redness, drainage, warmth,  or swelling, it may be infected. Please visit your neighborhood MedExpress to have a medical provider examine the wound and provide treatment.