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Cuts and grazes

Most cuts and grazes are minor and can be easily treated at home.

Stopping the bleeding, cleaning the wound thoroughly and covering it with a plaster or dressing is usually all that's needed.

Minor wounds should start to heal within a few days.

How to treat cuts and grazes

Stop the bleeding

Stop any bleeding before applying a dressing to the wound. Apply pressure to the area using a clean and dry absorbent material – such as a bandage, towel or handkerchief – for several minutes.

If the cut is to your hand or arm, raise it above your head to help reduce the flow of blood.

If the injury is to a lower limb, lie down and raise the affected area above the level of your heart.

Clean the wound and apply a dressing

When the wound has stopped bleeding, clean it and cover it with a dressing to help stop it becoming infected.

To do this:

Keep the dressing clean by changing it as often as necessary. Use waterproof dressings to keep the wound dry while bathing and showering.

You can remove the dressing after a few days, once the wound has closed itself.

Take painkillers if needed

If the wound is painful for the first few days, you can take over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.

When to get medical help

Call NHS 111 or visit your local walk-in centreminor injuries unit or GP surgery if there's a risk your wound could become infected, or you think it's already infected.

A wound is at risk of infection if:

Signs a wound has become infected include:

An infected wound can usually be successfully treated with a short course of antibiotics.

When to go to A&E

Go to your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department as soon as possible if:

In A&E, your wound will be examined to determine whether there's a risk of infection. You may need an injection to prevent tetanus (a bacterial infection), and your wound may be closed with stitches, strips or special glue before a dressing is applied.

If there's a risk of infection, the wound won't usually be closed because this may trap any infection inside. Instead, it will be packed with a non-sticky dressing before being covered with a protective dressing until it's safe to close.