Caring for cuts

Cuts can be caused by a knife or even a sheet of paper: the skin is penetrated by a sharp object; usually on the hand or a finger. Follow the treatment steps below, which are based on NHS recommendations:

Graphic representation of hand washing as a wound treatment step in the Leukoplast wound care advisor.

1. Wash your hands:

Wash and dry your hands thoroughly.
Graphic representation of a running tap to illustrate the rinsing of the wound as a wound treatment step in the Leukoplast wound care advisor.

2. Clean the wound:

“Clean the wound under drinking-quality running tap water.
Note: Avoid using antiseptic as it may damage the skin and slow healing.” 1
Graphic representation of a hand absorbing fluid with a cloth to illustrate drying of the wound as a wound treatment step.

3. Dry the skin:

Pat the area dry with a clean towel. 1
Graphic representation of a hand pressing a compress on a wound to illustrate the stopping of the bleeding as a treatment step.

4. Stop the bleeding:

“If the wound is bleeding, apply gentle pressure to the area with a clean gauze bandage or cloth and elevate until the bleeding stops.” 1
Graphic representation of a hand applying a wound dressing to another wrist to symbolise covering the wound as a treatment step.

5. Dress the wound:

Apply a sterile adhesive dressing. 1
The dressing can be changed daily if necessary or whenever it becomes wet or dirty.
Keep the wound dry by using waterproof dressings, which will allow you to take showers. 1

When to seek medical advice

Most cuts are minor and can be dealt with at home. However, seek medical attention from a healthcare professional, if

  • you can't stop the bleeding
  • you're bleeding from an artery
  • you experience persistent or significant loss of sensation near the wound or you're having trouble moving any body parts
  • you have a severe cut to your face
  • you have a cut on the palm of your hand and it looks infected
  • there's a possibility a foreign body is still inside the wound
  • the wound is very large or the injury has caused a lot of tissue damage 1
When was your last tetanus vaccination?
Please consult a healthcare professional to consider a tetanus booster. 2

How to recognise an infected wound

  • becomes more painful
  • is warm to touch
  • looks red or swollen
  • leaks pus or blood
  • has an unpleasant smell
  • general deteriation, feeling unwell
  • If you notice signs of sepsis 3

Please contact your healthcare practitioner if you experience any of the above.

When in doubt, see a medical expert

Many common wounds can be dealt with at home. But when should a doctor be consulted? Scroll down for more information!

Pictogram showing a medical expert.

Medical references
1 https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cuts-and-grazes/
2 https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/tetanus/
3 International Wound Infection Institute (IWII) Wound infection in clinical practice. Wounds International 2016