First Aid for Cuts

Cuts (also called lacerations) are slits or an opening in the skin which lead to mild or heavy bleeding. A cut may be in any form, it may be smooth, jagged or deep. It may be superficial or it may affect blood vessels, tendons, ligaments, nerves, muscles, blood or even bones.


  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Impaired function in the affected area


Even though cuts are not true emergency medical conditions, care should be given to prevent infection. The following are the types of wounds that are susceptible to infections:

  • Insect bites
  • Crushing injuries
  • Punctures
  • Wounds covered with dirt
  • Cuts on the feet
  • Cuts that are not treated immediately


Minor cuts do not require immediate medical attention, but you must treat the wound yourself to prevent infections.

1. Stop the bleeding

Cuts often do not stop bleeding until you try to stop it yourself. You can stop the bleeding by applying pressure using a clean cloth on the wound. It is advisable to keep pressing the wound for 20-30 minutes and not let go even to check if the bleeding has stopped as this may cause the clot to dislodge and lead to persistent bleeding. If bleeding is persistent or is blood is spurting, it is ideal to seek medical help.

2. Clean the cut

Hold the wound under a tap and rinse it with clear water. Do NOT use soap as it may irritate the wound. If there is any dirt or debris rinse the wound till the dirt is swept away or use tweezers or alcohol to remove the dirt. If dirt particles still remain, let your doctor treat your wound for you. Do not try to do anything that may aggravate the wound or make the wound larger. Cleaning reduces the chances of developing infections and tetanus. After cleaning the wound, use a washcloth and soap to clean the area around the wound. You do not have to use iodine or hydrogen peroxide to clean the area.

3. Apply antiseptic

Apply a thin layer of antiseptic or antibiotic cream. This will not make the wound heal faster but it will encourage the body’s natural healing process and prevent any infections from taking place. If you develop any allergic reactions or rashes due to the ointment, stop using it and seek for your doctor’s advice.

4. Use a bandage to cover the woundUse a bandage to cover the wound

This will keep harmful bacteria away from the wound. Once the wound has healed enough to prevent infection, stop using bandages as air can speed up the healing process.

5. Change the bandage

It is recommended that you change your dressing every day if it becomes moist or dirty.

6. Stitches for deeper wounds

A cut that is 6 millimeters or deeper or has fat protruding or exposed, often requires stitches. Visit your doctor to get this done in order to prevent infection.

7. Keep a look out for infection

If you experience signs of infection such as pus, persistent pain, drainage, swelling or redness, see your doctor.

8. Get a tetanus shot

Doctors advise that getting a tetanus shot once in 10 years can greatly reduce the chances of infection.

More Information and Training

For more information or to receive “hands on” training for wound care including cuts and lacerations take a workplace approved first aid course with Kelowna First Aid. Wound care is covered in childcare, emergency and standard first aid all found here.

Additional Information for Minor Cuts or Scrapes



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