Learn how to clean a wound

You’re chopping potatoes for dinner and slice your finger. You play with your toddler, who manages to throw his head back right across your nose. Your child falls and slices her forehead on the coffee table edge.

Some injuries bleed more than others, and sometimes you may need to treat wounds at home. Follow these simple steps to stop bleeding at home.

RELATED: What Makes Your Nose Bleed?

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How to Stop Bleeding: A Step-by-Step Guide for First Aid


Luckily, you can stop the bleeding of most minor injuries at home with just a few steps. Some areas of the body bleed more than others. Your face and scalp have a lot of blood vessels close to the surface of the skin. This can cause an excess of blood to gush from a fairly minor cut.

Don’t freak out: You can quickly handle this.

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    [fc_howto_step name=\"Apply pressure to the wound with a clean cloth, sock, towel, or gauze.\"]
    Fold the cloth into a wad and use both hands to hold steady pressure over the wound to stop the bleeding. For a nosebleed, keep your head upright and pinch the bridge of your nose rather than squeeze your nostrils.

  • Elevate the wound. 
    If it’s a head wound, lie down with your head elevated. If the cut is on a limb, raise it above the level of your heart as you apply pressure. Elevation will lessen  swelling and pain.

    A minor injury should stop bleeding in about 10 or 15 minutes or less. Once the bleeding stops, be sure to wash your hands again and clean the wound. Use an antibiotic cream before applying a bandage to help prevent infection.


Signs You Should Seek Help for Bleeding

Too much blood loss can lead to shock and other problems. If the bleeding isn’t slowing down, you should go to an emergency room or urgent care center. You may also want to see a doctor if you haven’t had a tetanus shot and think your cut may put you at risk of an infection.

Signs you may need stitches include:

  • A wound that is gaping open, that you aren’t able to close well as you apply pressure.
  • Seeing more than the top layer of skin.
  • Bleeding that doesn’t slow.

As your cut heals, look for signs of infection, such as redness or tenderness around the wound, red streaks coming from the cut, or fever.

For cuts and scrapes that need medical attention, you can avoid the emergency room (and often higher co-pays) by visiting an urgent care center. These clinics have longer hours than regular physician offices and can usually see you quickly.

Tips to Make a Wound Heal Faster at Home

Here are a few tips and home remedies you can try to make your wounds heal faster:

  1. Antibacterial ointments—Over-the-counter (OTC) antibacterial ointments and creams help prevent infection and promote wound healing. They also work well to prevent cuts from sticking to your Band-Aids, as does petroleum jelly.
  2. Aloe vera—This plant, a relative of the cactus, contains a protein that helps the body regenerate cells and produce collagen. Rich in vitamins and minerals, aloe vera also works on minor burns, sunburn, and other skin irritations.
  3. Honey—Known widely as a sweetener, honey also has antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Honey has been used in folk medicine for centuries to treat minor cuts and burns.
  4. Coconut oil—All the rage in cooking recently, coconut oil contains monolaurin, a fatty acid with antimicrobial properties. Applied to a minor cut or wound, virgin coconut oil can reduce the risk of infection and keep the wound soft to promote healing.
  5. Turmeric paste—This spice also has antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties, and has been shown to stimulate the healing process in minor cuts and wounds.
  6. Garlic—Not just a seasoning for your pasta, garlic contains the compound allicin, which has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. A 2018 study revealed that an ointment of 1:3 garlic to petroleum jelly promoted more healing when compared with petroleum jelly alone.

Learn more by visiting the UPMC Emergency Room care website.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on , and was last reviewed on . Updated per Merkle's SEO recommendations

About Trauma & Emergency Medicine

Emergencies can happen in the blink of an eye or the beat of the heart. And when they do, seconds matter. UPMC’s emergency and trauma care services are ready to provide world-class care, no matter how serious your emergency. All our emergency departments have a full-time staff of emergency specialists at the ready 24 hours a day. We use advanced technology to diagnose and treat your condition and coordinate with your doctor to provide the best care possible. We also have specialized trauma care, including Level 1 trauma centers at UPMC Presbyterian and UPMC Mercy, a Level 1 pediatric trauma center at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, a Level 2 trauma center at UPMC Hamot, and a Level 2 trauma center at UPMC Altoona.

Emergencies can happen in the blink of an eye or in a heartbeat. And when they do, minutes matter. UPMC’s Emergency Medicine and Trauma Care services are ready to provide world-class care, no matter how serious your emergency. All our Emergency Departments have a full-time staff of emergency specialists at the ready 24 hours a day. We use advanced technology to diagnose and treat your condition and coordinate with your doctor to provide the best care possible. We also have specialized trauma care at several of our hospitals. If you or a loved one is experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or visit the nearest Emergency Department.