How to deal with cuts and bruises when giving first aid

Cuts and bruises are among the most common injuries that any individual may sustain. Fortunately, these injuries usually can be treated individually without the need to consult a doctor. In some cases, however, the need for medical help is highly recommended. Knowing the basics of first aid could go a long way in helping you deal with these injuries.

Cuts or lacerations are caused by sharp objects penetrating the skin. Depending on the depth, cuts often will bleed.

Bruises, on the other hand, results from hard contact with an object or person. The impact causes an injury to the tissue below the skin, thus resulting in bleeding under the skin.


Minor cuts are easily treated with basic first aid supplies. Due to the fact that cuts can happen at any time, every home, office or institution should have tweezers, gauze pads, bandages, and antibiotic ointment in their first aid box. Here are some methods of applying first aid for cuts.

  • Rinse a cut with cool water
  • Wash around the cut with soap: avoid getting soap into the wound
  • Remove dirt and debris from the wound with tweezers; ensure the tweezers are sterilized
  • Apply direct pressure with a clean gauze pad to stop the bleeding
  • Treat the cut with antibiotic ointment
  • Cover the cut with a bandage (deeper cuts may require a butterfly bandage)


Although bruises can be painful, treatment is limited. The key goals are to soothe the injury and allow it to heal. Here are some methods of applying first-aid for bruises.

  • Apply ice packs or cold compresses on the affected area as soon as possible. (note: ice should be wrapped with a damp cloth instead of placing directly onto skin) This will help to stop further bleeding at the injury site, thus limiting the size of the bruise. This can be done for 10-15 minutes every hour if needed.
  • If bruising occurs on the leg or feet, elevation on the first day can be done.
  • If pain relief is needed, paracetamol or ibuprofen may be taken.
  • For large bruises, limiting of activity during the first day will allow the site to heal better.
  • After a day or two, warm compress may be used to promote healing.

When to see a doctor

A victim should be provided medical help if/when:

  • Cut is deep or gaping
  • Bleeding does not stop after 10 minutes of applying direct pressure.
  • Pain is severe
  • Signs of infection develop (i.e. fever, swelling/redness/tenderness at the area)
  • Object which you cut yourself with is dirty or rusty
  • The cut is dirty or if you are unable to wash off foreign material from the cut
  • Bruise swells.
  • Bruise does not fade within a week.
  • Bruise occurs easily or for no apparent reason


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