Bleeding Cuts or Wounds
Medically Reviewed by Sabrina Felson, MD on August 23, 2020
Call 911 if:
- Bleeding is severe
- You suspect internal bleeding
- There is an abdominal or chest wound
- Bleeding can't be stopped after 10 minutes of firm and steady pressure
- Blood spurts out of wound
1. Stop Bleeding
- Apply direct pressure on the cut or wound with a clean cloth, tissue, or piece of gauze until bleeding stops.
- If blood soaks through the material, don’t remove it. Put more cloth or gauze on top of it and continue to apply pressure.
- If the wound is on the arm or leg, raise limb above the heart, if possible, to help slow bleeding.
- Wash your hands again after giving first aid and before cleaning and dressing the wound.
- Do not apply a tourniquet unless the bleeding is severe and not stopped with direct pressure.
2. Clean Cut or Wound
- Gently clean with soap and warm water. Try to rinse soap out of wound to prevent irritation.
- Don’t use hydrogen peroxide or iodine, which can damage tissue.
3. Protect the Wound
- Apply antibiotic cream to reduce risk of infection and cover with a sterile bandage.
- Change the bandage daily to keep the wound clean and dry.
4. When to Call a Doctor
- The wound is deep or the edges are jagged or gaping open.
- The wound is on the person’s face.
- The wound has dirt or debris that won’t come out.
- The wound shows signs of infection, such as redness, tenderness, or a thick discharge, or if the person runs a fever.
- The area around the wound feels numb.
- Red streaks form around the wound.
- The wound is a result of an animal or human bite.
- The person has a puncture wound or deep cut and hasn’t had a tetanus shot in the past five years, or anyone who hasn’t had a tetanus shot in the past 10 years.