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Cover the Cut or Scrape

Once the bleeding has stopped and the wound is clean, you should cover it with a sterile bandage or gauze pad and tape.

If the cut is small and is in an area that won’t get dirty and be rubbed by your clothes, you may decide to leave it uncovered. But for most wounds, it's a good idea to cover them to help prevent infection or reopening the wound. 

Change the dressing or bandage every day or more often if it gets dirty.

Antibiotic ointment can make infection less likely. Using a thin layer of antibiotic ointment before applying the bandage or gauze dressing will help keep cuts and scrapes clean and moist, and help curb scarring.

Watch for Signs of Infection

If the wound isn’t healing or you notice any of these signs of infection, call your doctor right away:

  • Redness, swelling, and warmth
  • Increasing pain
  • Pus or drainage from the cut
  • Temperature over 100 F
  • Red streaks around the wound

When the Wound Starts to Heal

Small cuts and scrapes will form a scab and heal within a few days. The scab helps protect the wound from dirt and germs while new skin grows underneath. Once a scab has formed, you may not need to use a bandage anymore.

Although a healing wound or scab will itch, it's best not to scratch or pick at scabs. The scab will fall off on its own without your help, revealing the new skin underneath.

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