The majority of minor cuts can be managed at home and should heal within three to five days. A superficial cut, or surface laceration, is one that breaks the top-most layer of skin but doesn’t go deep enough to reach the fat or muscle layer underneath.
Daily Activities: Everyday tasks, such as cooking, chopping vegetables, or handling tools, can lead to accidental cuts.
Paper Cuts: Handling paper, cardboard, or other sharp-edged materials can result in small but painful cuts.
Minor Abrasions: Scrapes against rough surfaces or contact with minor irritants can cause superficial cuts.
Shallow Depth: Superficial cuts typically do not penetrate beyond the epidermis.
Minimal Bleeding: While there may be some bleeding, it is usually minimal and can be easily controlled.
Pain and Tenderness: Superficial cuts may be accompanied by pain and tenderness in the affected area.
You should first stop any bleeding by applying pressure for 10 minutes on the cut with a clean towel or sterile gauze, if handy. This allows the blood time to clot.
Once the bleeding has stopped, wash your hands, clean the cut under cool running water and gently pat dry with a clean towel or gauze. Put a plaster or sterile dressing over the wound and change this if it gets dirty or wet. Leave on for the following three to five days to allow recovery and protect from any dirt or infection getting in.
Once healed, be careful lifting off any plaster or dressing so as not to disturb the scab. This is a key part of healing and will protect your body from infection, so do allow the scab to dry out.
While most superficial cuts can be treated at home, there are instances where medical attention is warranted:
Deep Cuts. If a cut is deep, extending beyond the epidermis, or if there is difficulty controlling bleeding, seek medical help.
Signs of Infection. Watch for signs of infection, including increased redness, swelling, warmth, or the presence of pus.
You should not usually need to see your doctor for a cut, but there are key signs that this could be more serious than a superficial cut. You should seek medical attention via an urgent visit with your doctor, attending an urgent care centre or by calling 111 if:
The doctor will ask about your medical history and any medications, examine the cut and clean and dress the wound, if needed. They may prescribe antibiotics if your wound is infected or at risk of infection. The doctor may also put stitches in the wound if it is bigger than 5cm if they feel it is needed.
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