Cuts and bruises are common injuries to the skin. While cuts are deep into the skin often result in and bleeding, bruises are superficial and accompanied by swelling. Depending on the cause of the injury, the harm can range from a scratch to a life-threatening situation.
If a cut is open, wide, or covers a large part of your limb, your healthcare provider may need to stitch it close. If a cut to the chest, stomach or neck is deep, or If you can’t get it to stop bleeding, you must go to a healthcare provider immediately.
How to provide first aid for people with cuts and bruises
When you have a cut or a bruise;
- Wash your hands with clean water and soap. This will prevent germs from your hands infecting the wound.
- Minor scrapes and cuts will usually stop bleeding on their own. If the bleeding does not stop on its own, put a clean bandage or towel over the wound and apply pressure on it. Raise the wounded part and keep the pressure on the wound for at least five to ten minutes.
- Wash the wound under running water or flush it with sachet drinking water. Don't wash the wound with hydrogen peroxide or use iodine to avoid irritating the wound. You can clean the area beside the broken skin with methylated spirit.
- Apply a bit of antibiotic cream (like penicillin ointment) or odour-free vaseline to the cut or scrape, covering it entirely.
- Cover the wound with a bandage and hold it in place with plasters. Make sure that the wound can breathe. To keep the wound clean, change the dressing at least once a day or when it becomes dirty.
- If there is swelling, apply ice packs to the area. You can make an ice pack by wrapping ice blocks in a towel. Place the ice pack on the swelling. Remove it now and then and see if the swelling has gone down.
- If you have not had an anti-tetanus vaccine in the last five years, you should see your healthcare provider about getting one.
What you will need to provide first aid for people with cuts and bruises
Homes should have first aid kits in case of minor injuries especially with children around the house. The first aid kit should contain basic items such as:
- Gloves will keep you safe by protecting you from contact with blood and other body fluids.
- Methylated spirit for cleaning cuts and bruises, and disinfecting them.
- Cotton wool.
- A clean towel.
- A pair of scissors.
When to go to a healthcare centre
You should always provide first aid to an injured person to stop the bleeding. If the injury is not serious, you can cover the wound and care for the person at home.
You should get the person to the healthcare centre if:
- Their injury looks serious. For instance, when a cut is deep or when you are unable to stop the bleeding.
- Their skin is split open or gaping and may need stitches.
- They are in severe pain and do not feel better within 2 hours after taking a pain reliever like paracetamol.
- Are younger than 1 year old.
- There is dirt in the wound that you are unable to remove when cleaning the wound.
- The skin loss from a nasty scrape goes very deep or covers a large area.
- The cut or scrape looks infected (look for redness, red streak or pus).
- The person has not had anti-tetanus vaccines before.
How to prevent cuts and bruises
- Keep all sharp objects (especially knives and blades) away from the reach of children and keep them properly stored when not in use.
- Glass wares and ceramics that can break to form sharp edges should be stored out of the reach of children.
- Ensure mirrors and furniture are properly bolted into the wall or other support.
- Play things should be checked regularly that they are free of sharp edges or rust.
- Provide adequate lighting in the home and walking support for elderly people. This will reduce falls in the house.
- Wear appropriate protective clothing, covering your hands and feet and helmets on your head.
- Keep your working area clean and clear of sharp tools.
- Carefully put away tools at the end of the day or when not working with them.
- Always reassess your work area and document any accidents or near misses.
- Train all workers and their supervisors on what to do in the event of an accident.
- Keep first aid kits filled with relevant supplies for injuries and put these kits where they are easily accessible.
- Have emergency numbers displayed in the workspace for access to care.
Get a first aid kit for your home or office, keep the content up to date and filled with items relevant to the likely injuries from that space. Keep important and emergency phone numbers posted on your first aid kit so any caregiver can easily get help when needed.