– A minor scrape, cut or abrasion typically doesn't require a trip to the doctor. However, even minor injuries to the skin tissue can become serious medical concerns if they're not cared for properly. Having the right first aid supplies at home can help you keep your wounds clean and promote healing. At drugstore.com, we make it easy to stock up on essential first aid supplies that include a wide selection of antibiotic and antiseptic products. read more about antibiotics and antiseptics »
When you get a cut on your skin, whatever microbes were present on the object that caused the injury could end up inside of your wound. Cleaning a cut, scrape or other minor skin injury to help remove any microbes that have gotten inside is an important first aid step. It's often recommended to rinse the wound with cool water to help remove any dirt or debris. A thorough cleaning around the wound can be done with mild soap and water. Some people may prefer to use an antiseptic to help guard against infection. Antiseptics can help eliminate many germs from the surface of the skin but may be irritating to a wound. Talk with your doctor first if you feel you need to use an antiseptic.
Types of Antiseptics
There are many types of antiseptics available on the market. These include alcohols like ethyl rubbing alcohol and isopropyl alcohol and can be purchased as liquids, sprays, swabs and wipes, giving you many application options.
Typically sold as a liquid, hydrogen peroxide is another commonly used antiseptic and kills microbes by oxidizing them.
You can also find many spray and liquid antiseptic products that contain benzalkonium chloride, an active ingredient that cleanses the skin and kills microbes.
Some products sold with antiseptics are simple wound washes. These products are saline solutions that simply rinse the skin.
Topical Medications for Wound Care
Some doctors recommend the use of topical antibiotic medications on skin wounds. These ointments, gels and creams can help to fight infections that may develop to assist with healing.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a number of topical antibiotics for sale over the counter, including bacitracin and neomycin. Some over-the-counter topical antibiotic products also include pain relief medications like lidocaine to temporarily numb the skin and help alleviate discomfort due to a wound. Your doctor can help you decide which antibiotic product is best to add to your first aid kit.
Caring for a Wound Safely
Experts recommend that you seek emergency medical attention if a wound is very large, is bleeding uncontrollably or has anything caught inside of it. If the wound does not heal properly or you notice redness, discharge from it or inflammation around it, it’s important to consult a doctor as you may have an infection.
You may also want to stock up on adhesive bandages, gauze pads and adhesive tape so that you can properly dress wounds after you have cleaned the area and applied the antibiotic of your choosing.
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