Punctures, cuts, tears in the skin. Even minor wounds require some attention. Take this quiz to find out how to take care of minor wounds.
True or false: Most wounds should be cleaned with a disinfectant like hydrogen peroxide.
False. Disinfectants can sometimes delay healing. Instead of using hydrogen peroxide, hold the wound under clean running water. Use a soft washcloth and soap to clean the area around the wound. If there's dirt in the wound, gently remove it with a clean, moist cloth. But try not to get soap inside the wound.
True or false: Wounds generally heal best if they are kept moist and protected.
True. After you've stopped the bleeding, cover the cleaned wound with an adhesive bandage. Or cover it with gauze—and wrap with more gauze or an elastic bandage to hold it in place. Change your dressing and clean the wound daily. Change it sooner if it gets loose, wet or dirty.
True or false: You can use butter to soothe a burn.
False. Do not put butter, oil, toothpaste or antibiotics on burns. Soak small, minor burns in cool water for 10 to 15 minutes. Then apply petroleum jelly, and reapply two or three times daily. Cover the burn loosely with nonstick gauze, and change the dressing daily. Put a cool wet cloth on it for a few minutes every day. For more severe burns, including any that are larger than 2 to 3 inches across, see a medical provider.
True or false: You don't need to worry about tetanus unless your skin is punctured by rusty metal.
False. You can catch tetanus by stepping on a rusty nail. But you can also get it from an animal scratch or bite, bug bites, or even a burn that breaks the skin. Tetanus infections can be serious. So for just about any wound that breaks the skin, it's better to be safe than sorry. Get a tetanus shot of you're not up-to-date on your boosters.
True or false: You should always call your doctor if you're bitten by a cat.
True. Cat bites often get infected. You may need antibiotics or a tetanus shot. Your provider can clean and treat the wound appropriately.
True or false: You'll be ready to take care of minor wounds, cuts and scrapes at home if you have a well-stocked emergency first-aid kit. Find out what supplies your kit should contain.
Sources: American Academy of Dermatology; American Academy of Family Physicians; Association for Advancement of Wound Care