Home emergencies: How to treat a cut

You’re chopping up fresh veggies for your stew and accidentally mistake your index finger for a carrot: ouch! Now there’s a painful gash left behind, as well as a whole lot of blood. What do you do?

First things first, don’t panic. Next, follow these three steps to treating the cut. Remember, this treatment applies to any kind of cut, not just kitchen accidents!

1. Stop the bleeding

  • Most wounds respond to gentle direct pressure with a clean cloth or bandage. Hold the pressure continuously for approximately 10-20 minutes or until the bleeding stops
  • See a doctor within 6 hours if you think you need stitches. Any delay can increase your chances of infecting the wound.

2. Clean the wound

  • Thoroughly clean the wound with soap and warm water. Remove any foreign material in the wound, such as dirt (or vegetable in this case) which may lead to infection
  • Apply a first aid antibiotic ointment to help prevent infection and keep the wound moist
  • Cover the area with a bandage (such as gauze or a Band-Aid) to help prevent infection and dirt from getting in the wound.

It’s not a once-off treatment though, you’ll need to continually care for the wound, and be sure to change the bandage immediately if it gets dirty or wet

3. Control Swelling

  • Apply ice to a bruised or swollen finger
  • Take an over the counter anti-inflammatory or pain killer, but only if things get really sore

Very important

If you experience any numbness or find it difficult to move your finger, then it’s time to see a doctor. Depending on the source of the cut, a rusty nail or broken glass for example, you might need to get a tetanus shot. You’ll need one of these every 10 years – if nothing else it’s a good excuse for getting a little TLC from your family after the jab!