Cuts and grazes damage the skin, which protects the layers of tissue underneath. Sometimes even a minor impact or injury can cause a cut that bleeds quite heavily.
Treating cuts and grazes carefully helps them heal more quickly and prevents infections and scars. Even superficial cuts and injuries in limbs can damage a nerve, tendon or blood vessel.
Most superficial cuts and grazes can be treated at home. A cut is considered superficial if it reaches no deeper than the fatty tissue under the skin and is no more than 2 cm wide.
You can stop the bleeding by applying gentle pressure on the cut. After this, clean the cut with cool, running water and gently remove any dirt and debris (glass, sand).
Close the skin edges with closure strips or adhesive dressing and protect with a dry and clean bandage. The cut is kept clean and preferably dry for 3-7 days depending on the size of the cut.
Keep the cut protected with a bandage if it is likely to get dirty or if it excretes slightly, but otherwise the cut will heal more quickly without any bandage or dressing. Slight excretion of pus (yellow or greenish) is normal, as long as the area around the injury is not red and hot, and daily showering is sufficient treatment. Cuts and grazes heal and scar over in 2–3 weeks.
When should you seek medical advice?
You should seek medical advice if
- the cut is not as superficial as described above
If the cut requires treatment, it should be seen by a medical professional as soon as possible, no later than six hours from the injury, to reduce the risk of infection .
Check the need for tetanus vaccination or booster at your health center or occupational health center especially if the cut is very dirty, the cut or the instrument that caused the cut is contaminated with soil, sand or faeces or the cut is caused by a bite of an animal or human. In the case of dirty cut, the booster dose is given if the last vaccination was given more than 10 years ago. There is no need to seek emergency care because of the tetanus booster, but it can be given on the next working day at your health center. If you are unsure about the cut or booster, please contact your medical helpline.
This Self-care instruction has been produced in collaboration with Duodecim Terveyskirjasto