First Aid for Grazes
Minor cuts and grazes can be easily treated at home without the need to require any medical assistance. Although painful, grazes will easily heal within a few days if the correct treatment protocol is used at the time of the injury. Basic first aid skills can be used to help someone who has suffered a graze to any part of their body.
Signs & Symptoms
Grazes can be defined as an abrasion of the upper skin layers. These are the protective layers of skin that guard the inner body. A graze will not fully penetrate these layers, but there are many fine nerve endings which will cause pain to the casualty. Alongside pain look out for the following symptoms:
- Red / purple patch (caused by the upper skin layer being damaged)
- Minor bleeding coming out of the patch of damaged skin
- Dirt / grit stuck within the area
- Casualty reports a stinging pain in the area
Tip - Tell the casualty that it’s only a graze and that you can easily help them get it treated
Treat any graze using the below 5 step protocol:
- Wash your hands and where possible wear gloves
- Clean the wound by running it under a gentle flow of water or use alcohol / chemical free wipes
- Pat the area dry with gauze swabs / pads
- Apply a sterile dressing like a plaster or light adhesive dressing
- Ensure plenty of oxygen gets to the area in the next 48 hours to help assist with the healing process
Tip - if you don't have gauze pads then use a clean towel, handkerchief or non-fluffy cloth
Infection is more likely to occur when there is dirt / grit within the wound. However the process of cleaning the damaged area with water and patting with gauze pads can help remove dirt and minimise the risk of infection.
There is also a heightened risk of infection if there was something within the wound before it was cleaned such as a piece of glass or other material.
Infection can be spotted via the following signs and symptoms:
- Swelling, redness and pain around the affected area
- Yellow / green pus coming out of the area
- High temperature / fever (38 degrees Celsius and above)
- Swollen glands in the chin, neck, armpit or groin
Visit your GP or a minor medical unit if you believe a grazed area of skin has become infected.
Helpful hint - Infected grazes are usually treated with a successful course of antibiotics prescribed by a GP