Cuts are breaks in the skin caused by sharp objects. They can be jagged or straight, surface-level or deeper. Minor cuts and scrapes can heal with proper home care. If the cut is deep, it can affect tendons, muscles, nerves or ligaments. If you have a deep cut, go to the ER immediately. Cuts put you at risk for infection.

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How are cuts treated?

Minor cuts can be treated with at-home care and cleaning. To prevent infection, treat by:

  • Washing the cut with mild soap and water after washing your hands
  • Using direct pressure to stop bleeding
  • Using antibacterial ointment
  • Protecting the wound area with a clean, non-stick bandage

Does the cut need stitches?

If the cut is severe, seek immediate medical attention for cleaning, shots and stitches. A cut is severe if:

  • The opening of the cut is gaping
  • The wound is bleeding profusely
  • A foreign object is embedded, which needs to be removed by a healthcare provider
  • The wound is more than a quarter-inch deep, exposes the yellow fatty tissue below the skin or reaches bone
  • The wound is large or deep, even if it is not bleeding a lot
  • The wound is caused by an animal or human bite, or a rusty or unclean object

Is the cut infected?

Cuts can easily become infected. Cuts caused by bites or unclean objects, as well as cuts on the feet, are at a higher risk for infection. If the cut is infected, seek medical attention. Signs of infection include:

  • Warmth or heat around the wound area
  • Redness in the area
  • Throbbing and swelling
  • Fever
  • Drainage of any pus-like substance

You can lower your risk of infection in minor cuts by keeping the area clean, changing the wound dressing regularly, and only treating the area with hands cleaned with antibacterial soap and water. Do not try to remove embedded debris. Instead, visit a healthcare provider.

If your cut is bleeding and won’t stop, goes past the first layer of skin, or shows signs of infection, visit a CareNow® urgent care clinic immediately for medical treatment. Our clinics are open seven days a week for walk-in patients.

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