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    Care for a Skin Wound - Topic Overview

    Clean the wound

    If you are not going to see your doctor immediately, rinse the wound for at least 5 to 10 minutes. Let the injured person clean his or her own wound, if possible.

    • Wash your hands well with soap and water, if available.
    • Put on medical gloves before cleaning the wound, if available.
    • Remove large pieces of dirt or other debris from the wound with cleaned tweezers. Do not push the tweezers deeply into the wound.
    • Wash the wound under running tap water (the more the better) to remove all the dirt, debris, and bacteria from the wound.
      • Scrub gently with a washcloth. (Moderate scrubbing may be needed if the wound is very dirty.) Hard scrubbing may actually cause more damage to the tissue and increase the chance of infection. Scrubbing the wound will probably hurt and may increase bleeding, but it is necessary to clean the wound thoroughly.
      • If you have a water sprayer in your kitchen sink, try using the sprayer to wash the wound. This usually removes most of the dirt and other objects from the wound. Avoid getting any spray from the wound into your eyes.
      • Large, minor, dirty wounds may be easier to clean in the shower.
      • If some dirt or other debris remains in the wound, repeat the cleaning.

    Bandage the wound

    Consider bandaging the wound if you need to protect it from getting dirty or irritated. Choose the bandage carefully. There are many products available. Before you buy or use one, be sure to read the label carefully and follow the label's instructions when you apply the bandage.

    • Be sure you have thoroughly cleaned the wound.
    • You may cover the wound with a thin layer of petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline, and a nonstick bandage.
    • Apply more petroleum jelly and replace the bandage as needed.
    • If needed, use an adhesive strip called a butterfly bandage to hold the edges of the wound together. You can make one at home camera.gif or buy them already made. Always put the butterfly bandage across a cut, not lengthwise, to hold the edges together.
    • Watch for signs of infection. If an infection develops under a bandage, you may need to see your doctor.

    • Take the bandage off and leave it off whenever you are sure the wound will not become irritated or dirty.
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