While prevention is always the best medicine, it’s important to know what to do when accidents happen. For minor injuries, here are some First Aid tips everyone should know.
#1: Cuts and scrapes. The first step is to stop the bleeding by applying pressure with some clean gauze. When the bleeding has stopped, gently clean any excess blood away and apply some antibiotic ointment. Gently wrap the wound with some sterile gauze and tape or a bandage. Be on the lookout for signs of infection, including pain, swelling and redness.
#2: Bruises. While most bruises will heal themselves after a week or two, try to protect the area from further impact. If a bruise is swollen or severe, make sure to see your doctor.
#3: Minor burns. To avoid sunburn, limit time spent in direct sunlight and wear sunscreen. Burns need to be rinsed for several minutes under cold water and then covered with a sterile dressing. Again, watch for signs of infection that will warrant a trip to your doctor.
#4: Black eyes. Apply a cold compress for about 20 minutes per hour for several hours following the injury. It’s not always obvious if there is more serious trauma to the eye, so checking with your doctor as soon as possible is recommended.
#5: Sprains. If you can bear some weight on the injury without a lot of pain, chances are it’s a sprain and not a break. Keep the acronym RICE in mind: rest, ice, compress and elevate.
#6: Bee stings. Contrary to what many people believe, don’t try to pick the stinger out with tweezers. Instead, pull the skin taut around the stinger and try to flick it away with the edge of a credit card. Apply some ice to the area to offer some relief and reduce swelling. Then, cover the area with a sterile bandage. Watch for signs of a severe allergic reaction including hives or swelling, which warrant immediate medical attention.
#7: Bumps. Most minor head bumps can be relieved by applying a cold compress or ice pack wrapped in a towel. If the bump is accompanied by bleeding, headache, vomiting, difficultly speaking, breathing trouble or changes in vision, see your doctor. If the bump is associated with a loss of consciousness, seek emergency care right away.