Most simple cuts, grazes and small wounds can be treated at home, with a plaster or dressing.
For more serious cuts and wounds, you may need to be treated by a medical professional.
Non-urgent advice: Go to an injury unit if the wound:
- does not stop bleeding
- is very large or very deep
- has dirt or something lodged in it
- is too painful for you to clean successfully
- is near to a major blood vessel or joint
- becomes painful, tender, red, swollen or warm, or has pus coming out - it may be infected
- was caused by a bite - all bites need medical attention
Cleaning a wound
It's important to clean a wound before applying a plaster or dressing. This will help stop it getting infected and encourage the healing process.
To clean a wound:
- Wash and dry your hands.
- Wear disposable gloves if you have them.
- If you are treating someone else, tell them what you're doing and make sure they're sitting or lying down.
- You may need to apply pressure to the area to stop the bleeding. If an arm or leg is affected, raise it above the level of the heart if possible.
- Do not try to remove anything lodged in the wound - seek medical advice.
- Hold the wound under running tap water for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Soak a gauze dressing or clean cloth in tap water or saline solution (salt water). Dab or wipe the area gently with it. You can also use an alcohol-free wipe. Do not use antiseptic as this may damage the skin.
- Gently pat the area dry using a clean towel or tissues. Do not use anything fluffy, such as cotton wool – fluff can get stuck to the wound.
- Apply a sterile non-stick pad to the wound and cover it with a bandage or waterproof plaster.
- If blood soaks through the dressing, leave it in place, apply pressure to the wound for a few minutes, and add another dressing.
A plaster or larger dressing is usually all that you need to stop a wound bleeding.