Scratches and Cuts on the Face
Your injury’s location can affect how you bandage it. For most injuries, first you’ll want clean it with water to get rid of debris and help prevent infection. Then, stop bleeding by applying pressure with sterile gauze. Face injuries can bleed a lot. But once bleeding stops, minor face cuts can go uncovered. Or a small adhesive strip can work well. You may need stitches if your cut is deep or longer than 3/4 inches.
Don’t Pop Blisters
Small, unbroken blisters can be left uncovered and will usually heal on their own. The exception if a blister is in an area where it might get rubbed, such as on the sole of the foot. In that case, protect the blister with a doughnut-shaped moleskin pad. For broken blisters, apply an antibiotic ointment and loose bandage.
Wrap Sprains and Strains
A sprain means torn ligaments or tendons, while a strain involves an overworked muscle. The signs are pain and swelling. In addition to icing the injury, wrap it with an elastic compression bandage. You want it snug but not so tight that it cuts off circulation. Keep the bandage on for two days to reduce swelling (loosening it at night). See a doctor if the pain becomes severe or doesn’t improve after five days.
How to Treat Minor Burns
Seek medical help for burns if they are severe, on the face, or bigger than 2 inches. For treating small minor burns at home, rinse the area in cool water. Never use butter, grease, or powder on a burn.
After rinsing, cover the burn with a thin layer of antibiotic ointment. Then bandage it. A nonstick dressing is best and you may need tape to hold the dressing in place.
Close Open Cuts
If the edges of a cut are separated but will go together, use a butterfly bandage to close the wound. This type of bandage should be placed across the cut, not along its length. If the wound is long, more than one bandage may be needed. Seek professional care for cuts that are gaping, are more than 1/4 inch deep, or don’t stop bleeding after 15 minutes of pressure.
Watch Surgical Wounds for Infection
After surgery, you’ll need to keep the incision site clean and dry. Change the dressing according to your doctor’s instructions. You’ll most likely need sterile gauze pads, medical gloves, and surgical tape. Each time you remove the old dressing, check the wound for signs of infection, such as a yellow or green discharge or an unusual odor.
How to Cover Scraped Knees or Elbows
Skinned knees or elbows can also be awkward to cover. Adhesive bandages with wings can hug joints and move with you.
Another alternative: Use a liquid bandage. This will stop minor bleeding and protect the wound from dirt and water. Liquid bandage is shower-resistant and only needs to be applied once.
Bandaging Knuckles, Heels, and Fingers
Fingers, heels, knuckles, and knees move, so covering them can be tricky. But you’ll want to keep them covered to keep dirt out. Bandages that are hourglass shaped or notched so they are shaped like an “H” can prevent folds and bunching. Or they can wrap around a fingertip for full coverage.
Large Scrapes: Cover Them Up
Scrapes that cover a large area should be kept moist to help promote healing. Antibiotic ointment or moisture-enhancing bandages, also called occlusive bandages, can do the job. Some scrapes don’t form a scab as they heal, but remain shiny and raw. If this occurs, wash the wound with clean water and apply a fresh bandage regularly. Watch for signs of infection.
Cuts on Your Hands or Feet: Keep them Clean
The hands and feet are exposed to more dirt than the face, so it’s best to keep cuts covered. Bandaging can also prevent shoes and socks from irritating wounds on the feet. Adhesive strips can be used for small cuts, but be sure to change the bandage if it gets wet or dirty. Seek medical help for deep cuts or puncture wounds on the hands or feet. When treating wounds, use medical gloves to protect yourself from blood.
When to See a Doctor About an Injury
Call your doctor for deep cuts, puncture wounds, or injuries that don’t stop bleeding after several minutes of pressure. Adults should call a doctor about getting a tetanus shot if they haven’t had one in the past 5 years. For children, check with your doctor. And always look out for infection. Seek medical care if a wound becomes red, painful or swollen, or drains a creamy fluid, especially if you have a fever.