You can look after most cuts and wounds yourself. You can:
- stop any bleeding by holding a clean cloth or bandage on it and apply firm pressure
- clean the wound by rinsing it with clean water and picking out any dirt or debris with tweezers (don't use antiseptic cream)
- cover the wound (small wounds can be left uncovered)
- change the dressing every day
See a doctor or nurse for a tetanus immunisation within a day if you have had any cut or abrasion and any of the following apply:
- it is more than 10 years since your last tetanus shot or you can’t remember when you last had a tetanus shot
- It is more than five years since your last tetanus shot and there was dirt in in the cut or abrasion, or the cut is deep.
It's also important to care for yourself, as this helps wounds heal faster. So eat fresh food, get some exercise, avoid smoking, and avoid drinking too much.
When to get help
You should see a doctor if:
- you can’t properly clean dirt and debris out of the cut
- you have cut your hand from punching something or the cut is over a joint
- the wound is more than a few millimetres deep and/or the sides of the cut don’t sit together well by themselves (i.e. the wound “gapes”). These may need to be closed with stitches, tissue glue or staples
- the wound is in, or near, your eye
- the pain gets worse
- the redness and swelling is increasing
- you develop a temperature
- the wound is from a bite, whether by an animal or another human
- the cut or abrasion was sustained in dirty water
- you have diabetes.
Not sure what to do next?
If you are still concerned about your wound, cut or graze, check your symptoms with healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.
The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).
Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.
Last reviewed: August 2017