Getting cuts and scrapes are just a fact of life.  Most of the time, they can be taken care of by cleaning them, using some antibiotic ointment on them, and covering them with a band-aid or gauze.  Bacterial skin infections are common – some are simply annoying, yet others can be deadly.  There’s a “super bug” lurking that sometimes gets into those cuts and causes serious problems.  MRSA, or “staph infection,” is an antibiotic-resistant strain of bacteria that isn’t easy to overcome.  Many times patients pick up this type of infection in hospitals.

To help you keep from dealing with the “bad bugs”, here are some tips for prevention of infection from cuts, scrapes, and punctures:

  • First, stop the bleeding.  Hold pressure on the wound for about 10-20 minutes with a clean cloth.
  • Next, clean the area with soap and water.  Hydrogen peroxide is helpful at first, but may hinder healing if used too often.
  • If the wound has foreign material in it, use some tweezers that you have cleaned with alcohol to remove if it is along the edge, otherwise do not go any deeper, as that could push bacteria deeper into the wound.
  • Use a first-aid antibiotic ointment or cream.
  • Clean the wound three times per day.
  • Puncture wounds also must first be cleaned with soap and water.  The same steps as treating cuts and scrapes apply to these type injuries.
  • If any of these places begin draining, or redness and swelling occurs, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Stepping on nails is a common way of getting a puncture wound.  These may become more easily infected because bacteria and debris can get pushed into the tissue.  If the person is wearing tennis shoes, the foam in them can harbor bacteria (Pseudomonas) that can lead to serious infection in the tissues.  Other puncture wounds caused by bites (human or animal), wood splinters, or plant materials can easily cause infection.

Most persons in the United States have received a tetanus shot.  The period of time for a booster shot is 10 years.  However, if the wound is in a tetanus-prone area or very dirty, a booster shot would be given if the person had not received one in the last five years.

Taking the time to properly keep a wound (regardless of how small it is) clean and using some type of medication to help it heal, is a lot better than dealing with an infection later on.  Don’t just brush off a minor scrape because it could become a major pain!  Keeping a first aid kit at home, work, and in your car wouldn’t be a bad idea, as you’d be prepared all the time!


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