Hand Injury Treatment

Call 911 if:

  • The person is seriously injured.
  • Injury includes amputation.
  • Bone is protruding through skin.
  • Bleeding cannot be stopped after several minutes of firm pressure.
  • Blood spurts from the wound.
  • The hand feels numb or cold.

1. For Cuts

  • Apply direct pressure until bleeding stops.
  • Remove rings and bracelets that may impede blood flow or compress nerves if swelling occurs later.
  • Clean area with warm water and soap.
  • Apply antibiotic ointment and a sterile bandage.
  • Apply ice and elevate hand to reduce swelling.
  • If a finger or part of a finger has been cut off, collect all parts and tissue and place in a plastic bag on ice for transport to the hospital with the person.
  • See a health care provider immediately for a deep cut, puncture wound, animal bite, human bite, or a scrape that you cannot get clean or if the cut shows signs of infection.

2. For Sprains, Finger Dislocations or Fractures

  • Apply ice to reduce swelling.
  • Keep finger elevated above the heart
  • If finger is bent or deformed, don't try to straighten it.
  • See a doctor immediately.

3. For Infection

  • See your health care provider if a hand injury shows signs of infection, including redness, swelling, warmth, or discharge.

4. Other Times to Get Medical Help

See a health care provider immediately for any hand injury if:

  • The person cannot move the hand or fingers
  • There are persistent new symptoms

5. Follow Up

If the person sees a health care provider, the next steps depend on the nature and severity of the hand injury.

  • For bites, puncture wounds, burns, and some other hand injuries, the health care provider will give a tetanus shot or booster if the person hasn't had one recently. The health care provider will also clean the wound and remove embedded dirt and debris.
  • For a fracture or dislocation, a doctor will X-ray the hand and may apply a splint or cast.
  • To prevent or treat an infection, the health care provider may prescribe antibiotics.
  • Surgery may be required for some hand injuries.
  • Physical therapy or occupational therapy may be prescribed to assist the person in regaining full function.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on November 25, 2015

Sources

SOURCES:

Cleveland Clinic: "Hand and Wrist Injuries."

American Society for Surgery of the Hand: "Burns."

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: "Fingertip Injuries/Amputations."

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: "Animal Bites."

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: "Human Bites."

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: "Hand Fractures."

FamilyDoctor.org: "First Aid: Burns."

FamilyDoctor.org: "First Aid: Cuts, Scrapes and Stitches."

Lucile Packard Children's Hospital: "Dislocations."

KidsHealth.org: "Broken Bones."

KidsHealth.org: "Burns."

KidsHealth.org: "Cuts: Instruction Sheet."

KidsHealth.org: "Frostbite: Instruction Sheet."

Red Cross: "Frostbite and Hypothermia."

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