FIRST AID BASICS
Before You Bandage: Cleaning & Caring for Injuries
From cleaning small cuts to treating head wounds, understand what you should do the minute an injury happens to help minimize trauma, clean and close a wound properly, and maximize healing.
Know when to see a doctor.
While most minor wounds can be treated at home, some should be evaluated by medical professionals in order to prevent infection and ensure you heal properly.
Not sure what to do?
Call our Nurse Hotline to speak with a medical professional.
Seek help for:
Cuts that are very deep, are more than ½” long, are gaping open, or have jagged edges
Puncture wounds and/or deep injuries where you suspect a bone may be broken
Injuries that cannot be properly cleaned or where glass or dirt is trapped inside
Cuts on the face, especially when close to the eyes
Bites from animals or humans
Cuts, scrapes, or burns that are not healing properly, even with routine and proper at-home care
Injuries involving metal or rust if you haven’t had a tetanus shot in the last 5 years
Cleaning & Caring for Head Wounds
Even a minor cut on your head can result in heavy bleeding because the face and scalp have so many blood vessels close to the skin’s surface. Most small cuts on the head can be treated at home by following the steps outlined above, but get immediate emergency help if the injury:
Is deep enough to pierce the skull.
Involves the eyes in any way.
Has deformed the skull in any way.
Shows any bone fragments.
Cleaning & Caring for Puncture Wounds
These wounds tend to be narrow and can be deep. If it doesn’t look too big or deep, hold it under running water, and either wash or soak the puncture area for 10-15 minutes before applying pressure and bandaging. Watch it carefully for signs of infection as it heals.
Get immediate medical help if your wound:
Keeps bleeding after a few minutes of direct pressure.
Is the result of an animal or human bite.
Is deep and dirty.
Is caused by a metal object.
Is on your head, neck, scrotum, chest, or abdomen.
Is deep and over a joint
Are you up to date with your tetanus shot?
It’s not just rusty nails that lead to tetanus, AKA lockjaw. Any wound is susceptible. The best prevention is a tetanus injection every 10 years. If you have a wound that is particularly deep or dirty, consider getting a tetanus shot if you haven’t had one in the past five years to be on the safe side.2 You should get it within 48 hours of your injury.
In Cases of Emergency
Cleaning and treating serious wounds should be reserved for medical professionals. But you can help reduce bleeding while you’re waiting on help. Here’s what you can do:
Have the bleeding person lie down.
Do not clean a deep or severe wound.
Apply steady pressure on the wound with sterile gauze or a clean cloth for a full 10 minutes.
If blood soaks through, layer on another one without lifting the first.
If there is an object lodged in the wound, apply pressure around it, not over it. And don’t remove the object. (It could be slowing bleeding.)
Keep a Kit at the Ready
A well-stocked first aid kit can make all the difference when an emergency hits—big or small. Here’s what we recommend keeping in your first aid kit to help close a wound quickly:
Sterilized medical gloves
Sterile gauze dressings
Medical grade tape
We have a number of kits that are packed and ready to go.
1 "Cuts and Scrapes: First Aid” https://www.mayoclinic.org/first-aid/first-aid-cuts/basics/art-20056711
2 "Tetanus” https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tetanus/symptoms-causes/syc-20351625
Find the Best Bandage for the Job
Not sure which BAND-AID® Brand adhesive bandage to pick? Our Product Recommender can help you find the one that’ll do the trick.