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How to Treat a Cut or Scrape

So you have a cut.  What do you do now?

The first sight of blood likely sends you running to the medicine cabinet to grab the hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol, Neosporin®, and a Band-Aid®.  These products may actually do more harm than good and can result in slower healing, more tissue damage and potentially a bigger scar.

Summer outdoor activities bring greater opportunities for cuts and scrapes.

Cleaning the Wound
Medical professionals are now recommending against using hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol to clean open wounds.  Instead, wash the area with warm soap and water and pat dry with a clean towel.  Try to avoid further traumatizing the wound.

Antibiotic Cream
Using an antibiotic cream will keep the wound from drying out, which may promote healing and kill some harmful bacteria in the wound, helping to prevent infection.  When selecting an antibiotic cream, choose Polysporin® over Neosporin.  Neosporin includes an ingredient that is an allergen for about 20 percent of the population.  An allergic reaction can slow wound healing and cause inflammation of the wound site.  For clean wounds, such as those that result from surgery, Vaseline is often the best choice.

Covering the Wound
Covering the wound with a Band-Aid is a good idea until the bleeding stops or if you are doing something that may reintroduce dirt or germs into the wound.  Otherwise, going Band-Aid free can promote faster healing.

Quick Reference
What TO DO When Treating a Cut:  
  1. Wash the impacted area with warm soap and water to remove dirt
  2. Pat the area dry with a clean towel
  3. Apply antibiotic cream – Polysporin preferably
  4. Cover with a bandage until the bleeding and oozing stops, then leave open when there is little chance of dirt getting in the wound.

What NOT TO DO When Treating a Cut:

  1. Do not use hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol
  2. Do not rub the wound aggressively
  3. Do not choose Neosporin to keep the wound moist

Dr. Michael Soboeiro is an internal medicine physician with WakeMed Physician Practices – Garner Primary Care.  He is currently accepting new patients.