How to Treat a Cut: Knife Wound First Aid

Knives are extremely useful tools, but if you use a knife chances are, at some point you’ll likely cut yourself. Accidents happen. So what do you do when you get cut?

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Check out First Aid Kits here.

Proper knife safety will help prevent accidental cuts. Knives should be used with respect and care, and for their intended purpose. Avoid prying and torquing with your knife. Always cut away from your body, never towards yourself. Don’t try and catch a dropped knife, and re-sheath or close your knife when not in use.

The majority of knife injuries occur on hands and fingers, as they are closest to a blade when using a knife. Knife injuries comes in two forms: cuts or lacerations and punctures. Lacerations are a long tear in the skin, and are usually shallow; whereas punctures have a small entry point and can disguise a deep wound.

If you do cut yourself, remain calm and take these First Aid steps to treat your injury.

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Stop the Bleeding – apply direct and constant pressure for 15 minutes. Releasing pressure at any point releases the clotting blood. If you let go, you should start over for the full 15 minutes. Use gauze, a clean cloth, or your hand as a last resort. If you have to have to use clothing, it’s better to use your own rather than someone else. This way you’re only exposing yourself to your own bacteria. Also elevate the wound above your heart to help stop the bleeding.

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Clean the wound – use clean water and mild soap to wash away dirt and bacteria. Larger debris can be picked out with tweezers if needed. Avoid using hydrogen peroxide or alcohol as these can damage tissue. Flush out the wound with flowing water. The wound might start to bleed slightly again at this point, and that’s okay.

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Seal the Wound – if you have antibiotic ointment, apply a small amount using a Q-tip, to avoid contaminating the container. Use sterile bandage and secure it with tape. To promote healing, change your bandages regularly. Risk of infection increases the longer a wound remains open. Wounds requiring stitches should be closed within 6 to 8 hours.

Now, not all knife injuries are minor, so how do you know if it’s serious?

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Deep cuts or puncture wounds to vital areas of the body, such as the head, face, throat, or stomach, chest, and back are especially dangerous. If there is heavy bleeding or the bleeding won’t stop, visible muscle or bone, spurting blood, severed tendons, numbness or loss of sensation, or a digit has been amputated, you should seek medical attention.

So be prepared. Knowing how to treat a minor knife wounds is much easier with the proper first aid. So make sure you have a First Aid kit with you when using a knife.

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