A scar is an outward reminder that your skin had been wounded from a sharp cut, scrape, burn or puncture. While you might not be able to prevent a scar entirely, you can minimize the risk of developing a scar by using proper first aid methods after your skin is first wounded and exercising diligent follow-up care. Keep in mind that you should never self-treat a wound on your face, or a cut that has jagged edges or that refuses to close--see your doctor for appropriate medical care in these cases. For minor cuts, try a few simple at-home preventative measures.
Make sure the cut has stopped bleeding before you treat it. MayoClinic.Com advises applying continuous pressure using sterile gauze or a clean cloth for 20 to 30 minutes. If you can, elevate the cut over your heart, advises The Merck Manuals Home Edition. If bleeding persists despite application of pressure, contact your doctor.
Rinse the cut in water. Carefully cleanse the outside of the wounded area with soap, but don't get any soap inside the cut itself, as this can cause irritation. You don't need to apply alcohol, hydrogen peroxide or iodine to the cut. The Merck Manual Home Edition states that using these can actually hinder healing and increase your chance of getting a scar.
Remove any debris present. According to The Merck Manuals Home Edition, most infections occur when foreign matter is left in an open wound. Use tweezers sterilized in alcohol to carefully pick out pieces of gravel, dirt and other particles.
Close the cut. The American Academy of Family Physicians states that you can use a special type of sterile adhesive called a butterfly bandage. This bandage is wider at the points at which the adhesive sticks to the skin; a slender portion of the bandage covers the cut itself.
- If you use a bandage, you probably don't need to apply an antibiotic ointment. Both accomplish the same purpose by keeping the wound clean.
- The Merck Manuals Home Edition indicates that cuts more than 1/3 inches long require a doctor's treatment.
- Avoid picking at scabs--this is your skin's natural way of healing itself.
- Don't let the cut become infected. Signs of infection may include a thick, cream-colored pus that oozes from the cut. Look for increased redness, pain, inflammation or red streaks around the wounded skin. The area around the cut may feel numb, and you may run a fever. Contact your doctor if you suspect an infection–this can lead to greater scarring.
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