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A Real Sore Point

April 05, 1999|BARBARA J. CHUCK

Scrapes, cuts and burns not only can hurt, they can also open the door to infection. But there's a lot you can do to treat minor injuries yourself, without rushing to the doctor or the ER. When in doubt, or if your wound doesn't heal within a few weeks, call your doctor.

To treat cuts, punctures (such as when your skin is pierced by a narrow, sharp object) and scrapes, follow the four Cs:

1. Control bleeding: Apply direct pressure to stop bleeding with cuts and scrapes. With punctures, let the bleeding stop on its own (unless the bleeding is heavy). 2. Clean the wound: Washing with warm water and soap kills germs and removes the dirt. Soak a minor puncture wound in warm, sudsy water for several minutes.

3. Close the edges: With cuts, speeding is healed with a butterfly bandage.

4. Cover the injury: Use antibiotic ointment. For a cut or scrape, use a sterile bandage or clean gauze (tape in place). Cover a minor puncture with gauze to absorb drainage.

To treat minor burns:

1. Cool the burn immediately. Use cloths soaked in cool water, or place the burned area under a gentle stream of cool water or in a container of water.

2. Minor burns can be treated like minor cuts or scrapes. Be sure to clean the burn and cover it with a loose dressing.

3. Do not apply butter, oil or ointment. This only seals in the heat.

4. Don't break blisters or pull off skin from a broken blister.

Seek medical help immediately if:

* The bleeding just won't stop.

* The wound covers a large area, is deep or you can see tendons or bones.

* Your ear or eye is injured or burned.

* The burn is larger than the size of your palm, or is on your neck, face, foot, groin or the back of your hand.

* A puncture wound is deep or wide, or was caused by a dirty or rusty object.

* You have signs of infection, such as fever, pus, pain or redness.

* It's been 10 years or more since your last tetanus shot.

Source: StayWell Co.

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