Cuts and Scrapes

Broken areas on the surface of the skin caused by minor injuries

  • Age, gender, genetics, and lifestyle are not significant factors

From time to time, the surface of the skin may be broken by small cuts and scrapes. Most of these minor injuries bleed to some extent, particularly those that are on the scalp or the palm of the hand.

A cut in the skin may be irregular or, if it results from injury caused by a sharp-edged implement such as a knife, clearly demarcated. Scrapes occur when the top layer of the skin rubs against a rough surface and is damaged. These superficial abrasions do not necessarily bleed but may ooze clear fluid.

What can I do?

Clean a cut or scrape as soon as you possibly can with soap and water and make sure that no dirt or foreign bodies are embedded in the wound. To control bleeding, press a clean gauze pad firmly over the area. Small injuries may heal more quickly if left uncovered, but, if dirt is likely to enter the wound, you should protect the area with an antiseptic cream and a sterile dressing.

What might the doctor do?

Minor injuries usually do not need medical attention. However, if a wound is slow to heal, becomes more swollen, red, and painful, or contains pus, it may be infected. You may need oral antibiotics or topical antibiotics (see Preparations for skin infections and infestations) from your doctor.

If a wound is deep or dirty, you may need an antitetanus injection. Severe wounds may need stitches.

From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.

The subjects, conditions and treatments covered in this encyclopaedia are for information only and may not be covered by your insurance product should you make a claim.

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