Parent applying plaster to child's foot

How to heal cuts and minor wounds

Accidents happen to all of us. Whether it be a slip with a cooking knife or a grazed knee from a fall, minor wounds like cuts and scrapes should still be taken seriously and treated quickly.

When you or a member of your family have a cut or scrape where there is bleeding, follow these steps:24,25

Person applying plaster to their heel
  1. Stop the bleeding by applying pressure with a bandage or clean towel to the wound, and if possible or necessary, raising the wounded area above the heart to help reduce blood flow.24
  2. Ensure your hands are clean, and then clean out any foreign particles like dirt from the wound. 24 Disinfect it with a disinfectant or antiseptic treatment. An antiseptic cream like Bepanthen Plus Cream effectively disinfects the wound while limiting the risk of contamination that could arise from touching the wound25
  3. Apply a sterile adhesive dressing, such as a plaster24

When should you seek immediate care?24

  • If you cannot stop the bleeding
  • If you are bleeding from an artery
  • If the skin around the wound is numb
  • If the wound is very large, or there is lots of tissue damage

Be aware of bacterial infections24

Even when you take all of the right steps to prevent an infection, factors beyond your control may cause one to develop. However, there are certain factors that may indicate a wound is at risk of infection, including if it has a jagged edge and if it was contaminated with dirt or bodily fluids such as pus.

Signs of infection can include:

  • Swelling, redness, and a wound that gets more rather than less sore over time
  • Pus coming from wound
  • A foul odour coming from wound
  • Dizziness or a fast heartbeat
  • A high temperature or a general feeling of being unwell

How does skin heal?

There are a number of different stages in the healing process.26

The first focuses on stopping bleeding:26

  • Blood vessels leading to the wounded area constrict, reducing the flow of blood (called vasoconstriction)
  • Platelets collect around the wound, and along with clotting proteins in the blood, coagulate and create a plug (called a fibrin plug) that stops the bleeding and turning into a scab.
Girl with plaster on her face

Once bleeding has stopped, the previously constricted blood vessels dilate so that white blood cells, which fight infection, can collect around the wounded area to help prevent and fight off infection.26

After the wound is prevented from infection, cells that are capable of forming skin and other tissue gather at the site of injury and begin to produce collagen, which will eventually fill in the wound under the scab and create new capillaries to bring oxygen-rich blood to the recovering wound.26

Skin along the edges of the wound becomes thicker and then gradually migrates (or stretches) under the scab to the center of the wound, where it meets skin from the other side and forms a scar (about three weeks after the initial injury).26

The rate your wound heals can be affected by factors such as:26

  • Age — young'uns usually heal faster than older folks
  • Nutrition — the body needs a good supply of vitamin C to make collagen
  • Smoking — non-smokers, on average, heal more quickly than smokers
  • Stress — large amounts of stress can delay the healing process
  • Other infections or illnesses — diabetes, thyroid disease, high blood pressure, and
  • poor circulation, for example, can decrease the body's ability to heal

It can also be affected by the level of moisture in your skin – as soon as your wound closes up it’s important to keep the new skin and the skin surrounding the wound moisturised and hydrated to help reduce inflammation and scarring and to support a healthy skin barrier.27 Use Bepanthen plus ointment in any type of minor wound at risk of infection, including abrasions, small cuts and scratches, fissures, mild burns and/or sores. Bepanthen Plus should not be used on serious, deep or highly contaminated wounds. Such wounds require medical attention.25