Treating Minor Cuts Obtained During Protests

In times of unrest, you may find yourself injured, or caring for somebody else who has suffered an injury such as a cut or graze. Many minor injuries can be treated without the need to see a doctor and if looked after correctly, can heal with no further negative effects.

The following guide will explain how to recognise and treat a minor injury safely, but it is important to keep in mind that if the injuries appear more serious, or you are unsure of what to do, you should seek professional medical advice.

Why is it important to treat minor cuts and wounds?

Minor cuts and bleeding are the most common type of injury that people worry about treating themselves. In most cases, they can be safely treated without the need for medical assistance. The important part of the treatment of minor injuries is to prevent infection, because even a small cut can lead to a potentially life-threatening infection if it is not properly cleaned. This is especially the case if the cut was caused by something dirty, or if dust and mud have got into the wound.

The following guide will explain how to recognize and treat a minor injury safely, but it is important to keep in mind that if the injuries appear more serious, or you are unsure of what to do, you should seek professional medical advice.

What important symptoms should you look out for?

Before we go over how to treat minor wounds, here are some signs and symptoms that you should look out for. If any of these are present, you should seek medical help as soon as possible:

  • Loss of consciousness 
  • Broken bones (especially if they break through the skin) 
  • Heavy bleeding that you cannot stop 
  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Confusion or drowsiness 
  • Foreign object in the wound 
  • Very deep wounds

If you notice any of the above signs or symptoms, you should try to treat the injury as well as you can, but you must also seek medical help to ensure that the injured person gets the treatment that they need. If the wound or injury is less serious, you can treat it by following the list of steps given below.

How do you treat a minor injury?

So, what should you do to treat a minor wound? The steps below will help you to treat a minor wound efficiently and minimise the chance of infection.

Two hands reaching out to hold one another.

1. Find a safe area

Before jumping in to help someone or treating your own wound, it is important to make sure that you are in a safe environment. This may mean moving away from the main protest area. Try and move the injured person to safety, out of the way of crowds and traffic if it is safe to do so – you don’t want to injure yourself whilst attempting to help somebody else! Once you have found a safe area, you can then begin treating the wound. If at any point you are worried about the injury or are unsure of what to do, you should call for help.

A woman carrying an injured child in the middle east.

2. Assess the wound

It’s important to establish quickly whether the injured person needs medical attention, or if you can deal with the wound yourself. Look out for the signs that we described above, and find out what happened if you didn’t witness the incident yourself.

A person washing their hands in the sink with running water.

3. Wash your hands

Before you begin to treat the wound, it is important to wash your hands with clean water and soap. This will help reduce the chance of infecting the wound.

Two injured fingers

4. Clean the wound

As we mentioned earlier, even a small wound can lead to a serious infection if not cleaned properly, especially if it happened outside or was caused by something dirty. Ideally, the wound should be washed in clean running water but if that is not available, use bottled water or antiseptic wipes if you have a first aid kit. Once the wound has been rinsed and there is no, or little, visible debris, pat it dry using a clean cloth, or gauze if possible.

A hand reaching out into the distance wearing bracelets and rings.

5. Elevate & compress the affected body part

To help stop the bleeding, elevate the affected body part to above the level of the heart. For example, if the leg is injured, get the person to lie down on their back and raise their legs up, and if the arm is injured, hold it up in the air. This allows gravity to help to stop the bleeding. This is more difficult to do if the wound is on the chest or stomach, but getting the person to lie down should help. You should also put pressure on the wound to help stop the bleeding, but you should be cautious with this, because if there is anything inside the wound, it may get pushed further in which can cause further damage. If you suspect that there is a foreign object inside the wound, then you should seek professional medical help to remove it.

A paramedic helping a hockey player dress a wound on the knee.

6. Dress the wound

Now the wound is clean and you have taken steps to stop the bleeding, it needs to be covered to ensure that it stays clean. The best thing for this is a sterile dressing or plaster, which are found in first aid kits and can be bought in pharmacies. Gauze can also be used to dress the wound, but if you find that you have no supplies to hand then any clean cloth or clothing can be used to keep the wound clean whilst you locate a more suitable dressing. The dressing will need to be changed daily until the wound is mostly healed, which for a small cut should be around one week.

How long will it take for my wound to heal?

Most minor injuries will heal by themselves with no problems if they are kept clean and re-dressed regularly. If you notice any signs of infection such as a fever, pus (a white-yellowish liquid) coming from the wound, or increased redness and pain around the wound, then it is important to consult a doctor as the injured person may need antibiotics. Otherwise, the body will heal by itself over time and apart from a small scar, should not have any permanent effects.

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  1. Aad.org. (2020). How to treat minor cuts. [online] Available at: https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/injured-skin/burns/treat-minor-cuts [Accessed 30 Jan. 2020].
  2. Sja.org.uk. (2020). First Aid for Bleeding – First Aid Advice. [online] Available at: https://www.sja.org.uk/get-advice/first-aid-advice/bleeding/ [Accessed 30 Jan. 2020].
  3. nhs.uk. (2018). Cuts and grazes. [online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cuts-and-grazes/ [Accessed 30 Jan. 2020].
  4. nhs.uk. (2017). How do I apply plasters and other dressings?. [online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/accidents-first-aid-and-treatments/how-do-i-apply-plasters-and-other-dressings/ [Accessed 30 Jan. 2020].
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