3 Dangerous Delusions about Treating Cuts

If you’re still patching up cuts the same way your grandma did, here’s big news: Those time-tested techniques can actually do more harm than good.

  • Delusion #1: You should clean a cut thoroughly with hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol.
  • FACT: Both of these cleansers can damage healthy tissue around the wound and delay healing.
  • Delusion #2: You should apply a topical medication, such as iodine, Mercurochrome®, or Merthiolate® to fight germs.
  • FACT: Ultra-strong antiseptics can interfere with your body’s natural healing mechanisms. Instead, look for a product that contains natural ingredients, such as St. John’s wort, calendula, or vitamin E oil.
  • Delusion #3: You should keep the cut dry and let air get to it so that a scab can form.
  • FACT: Keeping wounds moist and scab-free helps them heal more efficiently and minimizes scarring.

Here’s the simple four-step plan for treating cuts that’s recommended by healing gurus:

1. Stop the bleeding. Cover the injury with clean padding, and apply firm pressure.
2. Clean it right. Rinse the cut under running water, or wipe dirt away with a wet cotton ball or pad.
3. Apply a natural antiseptic. Cover it with a nonstick bandage.
4. Keep it clean. Every few days, clean the wound with a mild saline solution (2 teaspoons of salt per quart of boiling water, cooled to room temperature).

NOTE: If any of the conditions below describes your gash, forget DIY treatments — get to the ER fast!

  • Blood is spurting out of the wound and/or doesn’t stop within 10 minutes.
  • You can see yellow fat or red muscle tissue.
  • It’s tide and/or jagged; and gravel or other debris is embedded in the wound.
  • The cut is on a joint