First-Aid For Wounds, Cuts, And Scrapes: Simple Steps To Treat Them At Home

ways to treat open wound at home

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“Castleman, Michael. The New Healing Herbs. Rodale. 2010. Aloe Vera is an excellent natural healer. The gel produced by the plant’s fleshy leaves contain compounds such as salicylic acid and magnesium lactate that decrease inflammation and redness, and relieve pain. Aloe also fends off infection f…”

Cuts and wounds can be a pesky problem when you are busy getting on with your life, but did you know you neglect them at your peril? Among the many important functions your skin performs, one is protecting your body from germs. When the body is wounded, breaks in this protective barrier can allow germs to invade our body – and that’s why it’s important to treat cuts and wounds promptly.[ref]How Wounds Heal. U.S. National Library Of Medicine.[/ref] Some wounds may also need more care than what you can manage at home, so read on to find out how to address such situations appropriately.

Your First Step: Know Your Wound

Abrasion, incision, or laceration? Understanding the various types of wounds will help you determine their severity, when home care will suffice, and when to seek immediate medical help.

Abrasion: Some parts of the body that are bony and thinly covered with skin such as knees, ankles, shins, and elbows are especially prone to the epidermis (the skin’s surface layer) rubbing off or getting grazed – as any parent with active children will tell you! Abrasions, as they are called, can be painful as the nerve endings in the skin get damaged.

Incision: When your vegetable knife slices over your fingertip, that’s an incision. This type of wound occurs commonly at home on the hands, face, and head. If the incision goes deep, it may affect underlying muscles, nerves, ligaments, tendons and even the bone. While minor incisions can be treated at home, show a deep wound as soon as possible to a physician who will check the extent of damage.


Laceration: The impact of a blunt object, such as a wooden bat, can split the skin, causing a laceration – a wound that appears jagged or rough unlike the neat slit of an incision.[ref]Care of open wounds, cuts and grazes. Better Health Channel.[/ref] This too should be referred as quickly as possible to a doctor if it is deep and jagged or there is considerable swelling.

Follow These 10 Steps Of First Aid

Minor wounds – surface cuts and scrapes – can be first treated at home with simple first aid. The simple measures that follow will ensure safety from infection and promote the body’s own healing process.


1. Stop The Bleeding

Take a clean towel or napkin and press it lightly against the wounded area until the bleeding stops. This will take a few minutes.


2. Wash Your Hands

Soap and scrub your hands, rinse well and dry your hands with a clean towel before you begin cleaning the wound to avoid infecting it. Wear disposable gloves if you have any cuts on your own hands.


3. Comfort

If you’re treating another person, make them sit or lie down and tell them what you’re doing.


4. Cleanse

Gently rinse the wound and surrounding area with clean, tepid running water or mild saline solution. Ensure that tiny pieces of dirt or other foreign matter do not remain in the wound as they increase the risk of infection. However, if something stays embedded in the wound, let it remain until you can get medical help. Soak a soft cloth or piece of gauze and dab or wipe the wound gently with water or saline solution.


5. Dry

Take a soft, clean towel and carefully pat dry the area around the wound. Avoid using antiseptic as it can damage skin. Don’t use cotton wool wads as strands of it can stick to the damp wound.

6. Reposition Skin

If a flap of skin has come off but is still attached, take a damp cotton bud or small pad and gently slide the flap back into position.

7. Cover Up

Bandage the area lightly or apply a non-stick dressing. Try not to use tape at this stage as removing the dressing can be extremely painful and cause further trauma to the skin.

8. Soak Up Any Extra Bleeding

If the wound bleeds through the bandage, place another one over it and keep applying gentle pressure on the wounded area.

9. Call For Help

If it’s more than a minor injury, get medical help as soon as possible to find out what other treatment is required, if any. Your doctor or hospital staff will also advise you on home care follow-up.

10. Get Pain Relief

If the wound hurts too much, a pain-killer is called for. Check with your physician about what medication you can take.[ref]Wounds first aid. Healthy WA.[/ref] Keep yourself hydrated as well so the tissues can heal faster.

Try These Herbs To Heal Wounds Naturally

If you’d prefer a natural salve to treat superficial wounds, check out these herbs known for their natural healing properties. Scientific studies also confirm that they contain powerful compounds to fight infection and promote healing. After cleansing the wound, apply any of these herbal preparations on the wound.

Turmeric has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and astringent properties. In South Asian countries, turmeric is popular as an off-the-kitchen-shelf remedy to treat cuts, bruises, and sprains.

To use, simply make a paste of turmeric powder with filtered or boiled water and apply over the wound. [ref]Lim, T. K. Edible Medicinal And Non-Medicinal Plants. Springer. 2016.[/ref]

Calendula or Pot Marigold contains flavonoids and other compounds that soothe inflamed tissues and prevent microbial infection. Other compounds such as carotenoids and polysaccharides help the skin rebuild itself, making it an ideal first line of treatment for wounds and burns.[ref]Calendula. University of Maryland Medical Center.[/ref] [ref]Preethi, Korengath C., and Ramadasan Kuttan. “Wound healing activity of flower extract of Calendula offlcinalis.” Journal of basic and clinical physiology and pharmacology 20, no. 1 (2009): 73-80.[/ref] You can buy calendula-based salves and ointments over-the-counter in herbal health stores.

Tea Tree Oil is well-documented and researched for its antiseptic properties. Studies indicate that it has powerful antibacterial properties that can kill even antibiotic-resistant bacteria.[ref]”Tea Tree Oil.” Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine. January 15, 2017.[/ref]

Dab tea tree essential oil on a cotton swab and apply over the wounded skin twice a day.[ref]Castleman, Michael. The New Healing Herbs. Rodale. 2010.

Aloe Vera is an excellent natural healer. The gel produced by the plant’s fleshy leaves contain compounds such as salicylic acid and magnesium lactate that decrease inflammation and redness, and relieve pain. Aloe also fends off infection from bacteria and fungi.[ref]Aloharrif, M. M., and K. V. Sandeep. “Aloe vera their chemicals composition and applications: A review.” Int. J Biol Med Res 9 (2011): 466-471.[/ref]

Cleanse the wound well with soap and water. Cut a few inches of a low-growing aloe leaf, slice down its length, and scoop out the gel. Apply this on the wound, allowing the gel to dry and form a natural “bandage.”

These plant-based remedies are as potent as any conventional medication. Remember to do a patch test to check for allergic reactions and any potential adverse effects if you plan to use them in your first-aid kit. We also suggest that you run them past your physician as a matter of caution.

Get Your Tetanus Shots

Tetanus is a rare but serious condition that can cause death without timely treatment. Typically, tetanus causing bacteria from soil or manure enter the body through breaks in the skin, such as when you fall on a street and have deep abrasions. Wounds from bites are also susceptible to tetanus infection.

Contact your physician if you get wounded and haven’t been vaccinated against tetanus (or if you’re not sure when you had tetanus shots). This is a must-do if your wound is deep or it has dirt and other foreign matter embedded in it. If you develop the typical symptoms of tetanus infection – muscle stiffness, spasms – get emergency medical help.[ref]Do I need a tetanus jab (vaccine) after an accident or injury?. NHS.[/ref]

Be Prepared With A First-Aid Kit

A first-aid kit with basic equipment for treating wounds is invaluable, more so when you have active, young children. Stock up on these essentials for cut/wound care in particular:

  • Plasters in varied shapes and sizes
  • Sterile gauze dressings in different sizes
  • A roll of crepe bandage
  • Disposable sterile gloves
  • Scissors and tweezers
  • Cleansing wipes (alcohol-free)
  • Painkillers (aspirin, paracetamol and baby paracetamol). Check with your physician on what to give – or not – to children. Check all medicines for expiry dates.
  • A first-aid manual.[ref]What should I keep in my first aid kit?. NHS.[/ref]

Also, stock up your kitchen larder with some of the herbal remedies we’d mentioned so you have them handy.

Call For Medical Help In The Following Scenarios

Seek professional help for treating a wound when:

Can’t decide if the wound is serious? Simply head to your nearest medical center after basic cleansing and bandaging and leave it to the professionals to assess what’s needed. If the wound is large or very deep, they will clean the cut thoroughly and, if required, stitch it up as well.[ref]How do I clean a wound?. NHS.[/ref]

  • Bleeding does not stop.
  • The wound is large or goes deep into the skin.
  • Foreign matter is embedded in the wound.
  • Pus oozes out and the skin is red.
  • There is soreness and pain.
  • The wound is due to a bite. Immediate medical aid is a must for both human and animal bites.

Remember, any wound that is infected will need immediate medical care and should be tackled differently.