Q. I tripped recently and tore a layer of skin off both my knees. I realised that I didn’t know the protocol for dealing with this small but painful injury. What should I do next time?
A. Most cuts and grazes are minor and can easily be treated at home, according to NHS Choices (nhs.uk). Here is a guide:
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
- Stop any bleeding Apply pressure using a clean, dry, absorbent material (eg, a flannel, hanky or piece of bandage) for several minutes. If the cut is on your hand or arm, raise it above your head; if to a lower limb, lie down and raise the affected area above the level of your heart.
- Clean the wound under running tap water (if you are abroad, ensure it is drinking quality). Don’t use antiseptic as it may damage the skin and slow healing. If there are any residual fragments of grit, remove them with tweezers.
- Pat the area dry with a clean towel and apply a sterile adhesive dressing, eg, a plaster (waterproof plasters mean you can take a shower). Change the dressing daily if possible.
- Encourage faster healing with a specific product such as Sheald Recovery Balm (£43), which can be applied to open wounds.
- Go to your GP or minor injuries unit if you think your wound is, or could become, infected. Go to your nearest A&E if you cannot stop the bleeding or if the wound is large – particularly if it is on your face or the palm of your hand. Check with NHS 111 if you need further medical advice.