When you get a skinned knee, cut, or scrape, clean it and care for it properly to prevent infection and avoid scarring. You can take care of a minor cut or scrape at home, but you should seek medical help if:

  • The cut is over a joint.
  • The bleeding does not stop after you apply direct pressure for a few minutes.
  • You cannot get the cut or laceration clean, or there is an object embedded in it.
  • The wound is jagged, gaping or disfiguring.
  • The injury is on the face.
  • The wound is deep or long.
  • The wound is a human or animal bite.
  • The injury was caused by a metal object, or a dirty object such as an oily tool.
  • The wound is over a possible broken bone.
  • The injury is a deep puncture wound.
  • The injured person has not had a tetanus shot or booster within the last 5 to 10 years.

In general, a cut that needs stitches should be repaired within 6 hours of the injury, but a cut on the face or scalp can wait a little longer.


First Aid for a Cut, Skinned Knee, or Scrape

Follow these steps to care for a cut or abrasion at home:

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water.
  2. Stop the bleeding by applying direct pressure to the area with a gauze pad or clean paper towel.
  3. Wash the wound with clear water and clean the area around it with warm water and soap. Try washing with a hand-held shower head to remove dirt from a skinned knee or scraped elbow. Use tweezers sterilized with alcohol to pick out debris.  If you are unable to get the wound  clean, see a doctor.
  4. Apply a thin film of antibiotic ointment over the wound.
  5. Cover the wound with a sterile gauze pad or bandaid to keep it clean. The bandage can be removed when there is no longer danger of infection.
  6. Change the bandage at least once a day, and any time it becomes wet or contaminated.
  7. See a doctor if signs of infection develop:
    • Redness, warmth, and swelling
    • Red streaks radiating from the wound
    • Pus or a discharge
    • The wound does not begin to heal.


See a doctor right away if:

  • Bleeding from a cut is severe.
  • Blood is spurting out.
  • Bleeding does not stop after 10 minutes of firm and steady pressure.
  • The injured person shows signs of shock, such as a weak pulse; cold, clammy skin; or rapid and shallow breathing.
  • The eye is cut or scratched, or the area around the eye is injured.
  • A finger or toe is partially cut off.

Urgent Family Care in Knoxville and Sevierville offers immediate treatment for cuts, lacerations, and wounds that need stitches or bandaging. You do not need an appointment. If you are worried or uncertain about an injury, come and see us.


DISCLAIMER: The information on this page is not intended to replace the advice of a physician. It is information that is generally available. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you believe you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911.