Caring for Simple Cuts

Written by April Reinhardt (last updated September 5, 2008)

While at my desk last week, assembling booklets for a board meeting, my work involved jogging piles of papers into uniform stacks. Invariably while jogging papers, I develop paper cuts on the inside of my forefingers and on the web of skin between my forefingers and thumb. While not a serious laceration, paper cuts sting intensely and can bleed a little or a lot, depending on how deep the cut.

A paper cut is just one example of a simple cut. Scissors, box cutters, broken glass, three-pronged metal fasteners, safety pins, cat claws, kitchen knives, tools—basically, any sharp instrument or object can cause a minor cut. There are a few simple rules when caring for simple cuts:

  1. Immediately apply pressure to the cut. Use a clean compress such as a Kleenex for small paper cuts, or a large towel if you've cut your hand, leg, or arm. Continue to apply pressure until the bleeding stops.
  2. After you've stemmed the bleeding, wash the cut with soap and warm water, taking care to clean any debris in or around the cut. You can dab or pour hydrogen peroxide onto the cut to help wash away dirt and debris.
  3. Dry the cut by patting it with another clean compress.
  4. Apply antibiotic ointment or spray on the cut to inhibit infection.
  5. Cover the cut with a sterile bandage to keep germs out.
  6. If the cut gets wet, repeat steps 3, 4, and 5.
  7. Let the cut heal before permanently removing the bandaging.
  8. See your doctor if the cut reddens, develops pus, or doesn't heal within a few days.

Some cuts are not minor, although they appear simple at first. While washing dishes with Dad after a large Thanksgiving meal, I sliced the outside of my right pinky finger with a small, sharp knife. I didn't feel the cut at first, but saw the blood washing down the drain with the rinse water. I immediately grabbed the clean dish towel and clamped it over my finger, holding it tightly for several minutes. Although the cut was less than one-half inch long, it was deep, bled profusely, and a half-hour later required twelve stitches in the emergency room.

Where simple cuts are concerned, there are times when you should not hesitate to seek medical attention. If you've been clawed or bitten by an animal, acquire a cut from a rusty instrument, or can't remove debris from a cut, see a doctor immediately to ascertain if a tetanus shot is required.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...


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