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First Aid & Emergencies

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Cuts - Home Treatment

Consider applying a bandage

Most cuts heal well and may not need a bandage. You may need to protect the cut from dirt and irritation. Be sure to clean the cut thoroughly before bandaging it to reduce the risk of infection occurring under the bandage.

  • Select the bandage carefully. There are many products available. Liquid skin bandages and moisture-enhancing bandages are available with other first aid products. Before you buy or use one, be sure to read the label carefully, and follow the label's instructions when you apply the bandage.
  • If you use a cloth-like bandage, apply a clean bandage when it gets wet or soiled to further help prevent infection. If a bandage is stuck to a scab, soak it in warm water to soften the scab and make the bandage easier to remove. If available, use a nonstick dressing. There are many bandage products available. Be sure to read the product label for correct use.
  • Watch for signs of infection. If you have an infection under a bandage, a visit to your doctor may be needed.
  • An antibiotic ointment, such as polymyxin B sulfate (for example, Polysporin) or bacitracin, will keep the bandage from sticking to the wound. Apply the ointment lightly to the wound. Antibiotic ointments have not been shown to improve healing. Be sure to read the product label about skin sensitivity. If you have a skin rash or itching under the bandage, stop using the ointment. The rash may be caused by an allergic reaction to the ointment.
  • Use an adhesive strip to hold the edges of a wound together. Always put an adhesive strip across a wound to hold the edges together, not lengthwise. You can make a butterfly bandage at home camera.gif or purchase one to help hold the skin edges together.


  • Determine whether you need a tetanus shot.
  • You may have a localized reaction to a tetanus shot. Symptoms include warmth, swelling, and redness at the injection site. A mild fever may occur. Home treatment can help reduce the discomfort.
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