Safety and first aid

Wounds first aid

A wound is any damage or break in the surface of the skin.

Applying appropriate first aid to a wound can speed up the healing process and reduce the risk of infection.

Wounds including minor cuts, lacerations, bites and abrasions can be treated with first aid. 

  1. Control bleeding

    Use a clean towel to apply light pressure to the area until bleeding stops (this may take a few minutes). Be aware that some medicines (e.g. aspirin and warfarin) will affect bleeding, and may need pressure to be applied for a longer period of time.
  2. Wash your hands well

    Prior to cleaning or dressing the wound, ensure your hands are washed to prevent contamination and infection of the wound.
  3. Rinse the wound

    Gently rinse the wound with clean, lukewarm water to cleanse and remove any fragments of dirt, e.g. gravel, as this will reduce the risk of infection.
  4. Dry the wound

    Gently pat dry the surrounding skin with a clean pad or towel.
  5. Replace any skin flaps if possible

    If there is a skin flap and it is still attached, gently reposition the skin flap back over the wound as much as possible using a moist cotton bud or pad.
  6. Cover the wound

    Use a non-stick or gentle dressing and lightly bandage in place; try to avoid using tape on fragile skin to prevent further trauma on dressing removal.
  7. Seek help

    Contact your GP, nurse or pharmacist as soon as possible for further treatment and advice to ensure the wound heals quickly.
  8. Manage pain

    Wounds can be painful, so consider pain relief while the wound heals.  Talk to your GP about options for pain relief.

Where to get help

See your doctor or nurse if the wound:

  • shows signs of infection
  • continues to bleed
  • you are unable to realign the skin
  • has dirt, glass, a thorn or other foreign body in the wound
  • seems large or deep
  • is not healing, or is very slow to heal (e.g. not healed after 4 weeks)

Or if:

  • you have an underlying medical condition
  • you have another injury or hit your head at the time of the injury (you may have a concussion or fracture)
  • there is a risk of further injury
  • you are unsure how to manage the wound, or have any concerns.

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.