Caring for scratches

Scratches are mild forms of cuts.1 These are slight injuries that happen when a sharp object, like a fingernail or thorn, scrapes along the skin. Scratches can also be caused by cats or other animals.

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.

3. 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.” 2
Graphic representation of a hand absorbing fluid with a cloth to illustrate drying of the wound as a wound treatment step.

4. Dry the skin:

Pat the area dry with a clean towel.2

Graphic representation of a hand pressing a compress on a wound to illustrate the stopping of the bleeding as a treatment step.

2. 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.” 2

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. 2
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. 2

When was your last tetanus vaccination?

Please consult a healthcare professional to consider a tetanus booster. 3

When to seek medical advice

Most scratches 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 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 4

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.thehealthsuccesssite.com/abrasions-cuts-and-scratches.html

2 https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cuts-and-grazes/

3 https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/tetanus/

4 International Wound Infection Institute (IWII) Wound infection in clinical practice. Wounds International 2016