20 Home Remedies for Cuts


©2007 Publications International, Ltd. While seldom life threatening, cuts need to be tended to before they become infected.

You're hurrying along and the front of your shoe catches on a crack in the cement, sending you tumbling to the ground. When you get up, you find that not only is your ego bruised, but you've managed to peel away the skin on your elbows and knees. You've got yourself a collection of painful scrapes.

If it's any consolation to your bruised ego and skin, you've just had one of the most common accidents. Americans get almost 18 million lacerations a year. Now your biggest concern is figuring out how to take care of yourself without alerting the whole office to your fiasco. In the following pages, we'll teach you the easiest, most effective home remedies to help heal cuts and scrapes.

How the Body Heals

Cuts and scrapes should be attended to immediately because of the risk of infection. Skin is the body's shield against germs. When a foreign body invades the skin, germs have an open invitation to raid healthy cells. Left untreated, cuts and scrapes can become painful sores, which are wounds that are slow to heal. Sores can also come from acute or chronic bacterial or fungal infections or from diseases that affect the body's ability to heal, such as diabetes or AIDS.

An amazing number of things happen when you cut or scrape yourself. When you disrupt the skin, a clear, antibody-containing fluid from the blood, called serum, leaks into the wound. The area around the cut or scrape becomes red, indicating that more blood is moving into the wound site, bringing with it nutrients and infection-fighting white blood cells. Nearby lymph nodes may swell. After a few days, pus (which contains dead white blood cells, dead bacteria, and other debris from the body's inflammatory response to infection) may form. And finally, a scab develops to protect the injury while it heals.

A scrape tends to hurt more than a cut because a scrape removes a larger area of skin and exposes a greater number of nerves. Scrapes often damage some blood vessels, so they are prone to bleed but usually not as heavily as cuts do.

As you can see, there's a lot more to know about everyday cuts and scrapes than you might imagine. In this article, we'll offer you helpful hints to take care of one of life's most frequent problems. We'll begin in the next section with some tips on how to keep your wounds clean and healthy.

For more information on cuts and scrapes and how to heal them, try the following links:

  • To see all of our home remedies and the conditions they treat, go to our main Home Remedies page.
  • For minor scrapes and nicks, you can turn to your garden to help the cut heal faster. Find out more in Herbal Remedies for Cuts.
  • You can learn more about the specifics of the healing process by reading out How Blood Works page.
  • How to Remove Blood Stains will teach you important techniques for rescuing your favorite clothes.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

Home Remedy Treatments for Cuts and Scrapes

©2007 Publications International, Ltd. Cleaning the wound is one of the most important steps in treating a cut.

Even being extra careful, you can't always avoid the scrapes and cuts of life. But you can learn how to care for them and speed their healing with these home remedies:

Stop the bleeding. When you get a cut or scrape, the first thing to do (after admonishing yourself for being so clumsy) is to stop the bleeding by applying pressure to the area with a clean cloth or tissue. If possible, elevate the wound above the heart to slow the blood flow. Don't use a tourniquet, which cuts off circulation.

Wash up. One of the most important things you can do in treating a cut or scrape is to clean it thoroughly with soap and water or an over-the-counter cleanser, such as Hibiclens, that doesn't sting. If the wound is really dirty, pour hydrogen peroxide onto it; as it bubbles, it will lift out debris. But apply it carefully, because hydrogen peroxide can damage surrounding skin. A wound that is too deep or dirty for you to clean thoroughly requires medical attention as soon as possible.

Bring on the antibacterial ointment. Antibacterial ointments and solutions can be very helpful. Polysporin, Neosporin, and Bactine are examples of such products available without a prescription. Polysporin is a good choice for people with sensitive skin, because it contains fewer ingredients that may cause allergic reactions.

Clean with iodine. Many people use a tincture of iodine or povidone-iodine for minor cuts and bruises. Iodine kills bacteria and viruses effectively.

Close the skin. Properly closing the skin is important in cuts that are 1/8- to 1/4-inch wide. (A cut wider than a quarter-inch or with edges that are too ragged to be closed evenly requires prompt medical attention, as stitches may be necessary.) Closing makes the cut heal faster and reduces the chances of scarring. Be sure that you have thoroughly cleaned the cut before attempting to close it. Try to line up the edges of the cut, then apply butterfly strips or a standard adhesive bandage to keep the cut closed.

Cover it. Covering a wound protects it and keeps it clean. Instead of covering with plain gauze, which tends to stick to wounds, use Telfa, a coated, gauze-type bandage. Adhesive bandages often have Telfa on them, but you can also buy larger pieces of Telfa in the pharmacy and cut them to fit. Cover the wound with the Telfa pad, and use adhesive tape to hold the pad in place. Don't cover it too tightly, however, because a bit of air circulation actually facilitates healing.

Keep it clean. To prevent infection, remove the bandage and wash the wound every day with soap and water. Then apply a clean bandage.

Don't let it dry out. By keeping a wound moist (covering it generally accomplishes this, as does applying an antibacterial ointment), you help prevent cracking, speed healing, and reduce the chance of scarring.

Lick your wounds. If you don't have immediate access to soap and water, licking may help remove surface contaminants--saliva has certain antibacterial agents. Saliva, however, also contains a wide variety of bacteria that actually can cause infection if introduced into an open wound. Be sure to follow up with a soap and water washing as soon as possible.

If a scab forms, don't pick at it. This disrupts the skin and can introduce bacteria. Instead, soak crusty scabs with a solution of one tablespoon white vinegar to one pint of water; the mildly acidic solution is soothing and helps kill bacteria.

At night, keep the wound moist with a water/petrolatum regimen. Wash the wound thoroughly, then cover it with a little petroleum jelly (such as Vaseline) to seal in the moisture.

Don't get locked up. Consider having a tetanus shot within 72 hours if you haven't had one in the last five years. Tetanus bacteria causes "lockjaw," a condition that can cause stiffness in the jaw and other joints, paralysis, and even death.

Protect it from sunlight. To avoid the skin darkening that often occurs when a cut or scrape heals, avoid sun exposure during the healing process and apply over-the-counter hydrocortisone to the wound. Also, for several weeks, be extra diligent about applying a good sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher) to areas where you've had a wound.

These practical solutions are often all the medicine you need for minor cuts and scrapes. If you need some extra help healing, however, you can find help right in your very own kitchen. Go to the next page to read about natural healing remedies for cuts and scrapes.

For more information on cuts and scrapes and how to heal them, try the following links:

  • To see all of our home remedies and the conditions they treat, go to our main Home Remedies page.
  • For minor scrapes and nicks, you can turn to your garden to help the cut heal faster. Find out more in Herbal Remedies for Cuts.
  • You can learn more about the specifics of the healing process by reading out How Blood Works page.
  • How to Remove Blood Stains will teach you important techniques for rescuing your favorite clothes.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider. The brand name products mentioned in this publication are trademarks or service marks of their respective companies. The mention of any product in this publication does not constitute an endorsement by the respective proprietors of Publications International, Ltd. or HowStuffWorks.com, nor does it constitute an endorsement by any of these companies that their products should be used in the manner described in this publication.

Natural Home Remedies for Cuts

©2007 Publications Internatoinal, Ltd. The antimicrobial properties of an onion can help stop a cut from becoming infected.

If you've tried home remedy treatments for cuts and scrapes and feel like you'd like to speed up the healing even more, you might want to consider some of these tired and true home remedies you'll find in your kitchen.

Home Remedies from the Cupboard

Garlic. Garlic is an old folk remedy for healing cuts, scrapes, and sores. It contains an antimicrobial agent called allicin that protects against infection. But be careful, as fresh garlic can be irritating to the skin and should never be left on the skin for more than 20 to 25 minutes. Mix 3 cloves garlic with 1 cup wine in a blender. Let it stand for two to three hours, then strain. Apply to the well-cleaned wound with a clean cloth one to two times a day. Discontinue if the treatment is irritating.

Honey. If you think bees are attracted to honey, you should see germs flock to the stuff when it's applied to a cut, scrape, or sore. Honey dehydrates the bacteria in a wound, making it clean and free from infection. Place honey on sterile gauze and apply it directly to the cleaned wound area.

White vinegar. Use a mixture of 1 tablespoon white vinegar to 1 pint water to soak off scabs. This will help kill bacteria and get rid of the scab gently without picking. Just remember: Vinegar stings!

Home Remedies from the Refrigerator

Onion. The same antimicrobial component of garlic, allicin, is found in onions. And onions don't irritate the skin like garlic does. Crush half an onion in a blender. Mix with honey and apply to a sore. Do not leave in place more than one hour. Repeat three times a day.

Plantain leaves. The leaves of this plant (plantago major) are well known in folk medicine for their cleansing and anti-inflammatory properties. Crush the leaves to get the potent juice. Apply the leaves to the cleaned wound.

Home Remedy from the Windowsill

Aloe. In addition to healing burns, the sap from an aloe vera plant can be used to treat sores. Break off an aloe vera leaf and apply the sap to the sore. Repeat every few hours.

Nobody can avoid getting cuts or scrapes. But they are easy to treat and by doing so you can speed along the healing of your skin.

For more information on cuts and scrapes and how to heal them, try the following links:

  • To see all of our home remedies and the conditions they treat, go to our main Home Remedies page.
  • For minor scrapes and nicks, you can turn to your garden to help the cut heal faster. Find out more in Herbal Remedies for Cuts.
  • You can learn more about the specifics of the healing process by reading out How Blood Works page.
  • How to Remove Blood Stains will teach you important techniques for rescuing your favorite clothes.

David J. Hufford, Ph.D., is university professor and chair of the Medical Humanities Department at Pennsylvania State University's College of Medicine. He also is a professor in the departments of Neural and Behavioral Sciences and Family and Community Medicine. Dr. Hufford serves on the editorial boards of several journals, including Alternative Therapies in Health & Medicine and Explore.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.