Cuts and abrasions

General Information

Most cuts and abrasions (also called grazes) can be treated simply. Skin abrasions and blisters usually result from rubbing or friction.

See Your Pharmacist or Medical Professional

  • if there is a lot of bleeding
  • if the cut or abrasion is very extensive, deep or dirty
  • if there is anything deeply embedded in the cut that cannot be removed easily
  • if the affected area is very painful and/or warm
  • if the affected area is very red and angry-looking, or there is pus
  • if the person has a fever or flu-like symptoms
  • if it is a bleeding mole
  • if the person has an allergy to wound care products, such as iodine
  • if the person is not up to date with tetanus vaccinations
  • if the person is elderly or very young
  • if the person has diabetes and the injury is on their foot

Treatment Tips

  • check the wound for signs of infection, such as redness spreading out from the wound, or pus
  • before applying a dressing, make sure the cut or abrasion is clean
  • do not put irritating agents on the wound; use only simple cleansing agents and dressings
  • avoid antiseptics on large, open wounds as they can be absorbed into the body through broken skin
  • antiseptics should be correctly diluted, because high concentrations can damage skin tissue, and prolonged use delays healing (see manufacturer’s instructions)
  • be careful when using an antiseptic cream; it is best not to use these under a dressing as the skin can get too wet and delay healing, and can also create an environment in which certain bacteria can grow
  • do not pick at scabs as the wound heals; this can cause scarring
  • scab formation can be reduced by dressings that keep the area moist, such as film dressings

Treatment Options

Blisters

if the skin is reddened but unbroken, apply a dressing strip or a dry non-stick wound pad dressing to protect the area

if the skin is broken, clean it with a mild antiseptic or weak salt solution, such as normal saline, before covering with a sterile dressing strip or dry non-stick wound pad

Cuts and grazes

if cuts and abrasions are superficial and not extensive, clean with a weak salt solution or warm water

small, shallow cuts heal faster if the edges are held together with a wound closure strip

cover minor cuts and abrasions with a sterile dressing strip or dry non-stick wound pad to protect the area

cover deeper cuts or more extensive abrasions with island or film dressings

Dressing strips (plasters)

[GENERAL SALE]
e.g. Nexcare, Band-Aid, Elastoplast

available in waterproof versions

Wound closure strips

[GENERAL SALE]
e.g. Leuko Tapes, Steri-Strips

wound closures keep wound edges together to help healing and reduce scarring

the strips are hypoallergenic

Dry non-stick wound pads

[GENERAL SALE]
e.g. Cutilin, Melolin, Telfa

dry, non-stick pads absorb any fluid without sticking to the wound

these pads need to be taped on, e.g. with Micropore Adhesive Plaster

Island dressings

[GENERAL SALE]
e.g. Cutifilm Plus, Cutiplast Steril, Primapore, Tegaderm Transarent Island

island dressings are self-adhesive with non-stick wound pads to absorb fluid

these dressings are available in waterproof versions

Film dressings

[GENERAL SALE]
e.g. Cutifilm, OpSite Flexigrid, Tegaderm

the clear film enables moist wound healing to be monitored

the dressings are available in waterproof versions

they are not suitable for very moist wounds

take care that the skin is not damaged when removing film dressings. See the pharmacist for a demonstration

Dressings impregnated with honey

[GENERAL SALE]
e.g. ApiNate Dressing

honey has antibacterial properties and may assist healing

no increases in blood sugar levels have been reported with this dressing, but people with diabetes should monitor their levels

Antiseptics for cleansing

[GENERAL SALE]
e.g. chlorhexidine + cetrimide (Savlon Antiseptic Liquid), povidone iodine (Betadine Antiseptic Liquid)

use to clean the area if required

some products must be diluted before use

don’t leave Betadine Antiseptic Liquid on the wound; rinse it off after a few minutes

Antiseptic creams, ointments, powders and sprays

[GENERAL SALE]
e.g. chlorhexidine (Bepanthen First Aid Antiseptic Cream), chlorhexidine + cetrimide (Savlon Antiseptic Cream, SOOV Cream), povidone iodine (Betadine Antiseptic Ointment and Spray, Savlon Antiseptic Powder), benzalkonium chloride (Bepanthen Antiseptic Cream)

for use on minor cuts and grazes to help prevent infection

SOOV Cream also contains lignocaine, a local anaesthetic, to help reduce pain

More Information

Availability of Medicines

GENERAL SALE available through pharmacies and possibly other retail outlets.

PHARMACY ONLY available for sale through pharmacies only.

PHARMACIST ONLY may only be sold by a pharmacist.

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Last Reviewed: 26 April 2009
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