When should I see a doctor or nurse?
If your wound is large, soiled, needs stiches, or shows signs of infection, see a doctor immediately. A deep, gaping, or jagged cut that goes right through the skin will most likely need stitches. If your cut is not very deep, it will probably not need stitches. If in doubt, check with your doctor or nurse.
How do I take care of a cut or scrape?
1) Clean the wound
Wash your wound thoroughly with soap and water. If, after washing, there is still dirt, glass, or another substance in your cut, see a doctor or nurse.
2) Stop the bleeding
If your wound is bleeding, firmly press a clean cloth or bandage on it for 20 minutes. You can also help slow the bleeding by holding the cut above the level of your heart. If the bleeding doesn't stop after 20 minutes, see your doctor or nurse.
3) Protect the wound
If available, apply a thin layer of antibiotic ointment (e.g. Bactroban) to the wound. Dress your cut with a clean, dry bandage and change the dressing 1- 2 times a day until the wound heals. Most cuts and scrapes heal on their own within a week, forming a scab in the process. Avoid touching or scratching the scab as this will increase the risk of bleeding, infection, and scarring. If your wound has been treated by a doctor, follow their instructions.
4) Check for signs of infection
Symptoms of infection include: fever, discharge (e.g. pus), a bad odor, increased pain, redness, swelling, warmth, or red streaks around the edge of the cut.
Do I need a tetanus shot?
It depends on how old you are and when your last tetanus shot was. Tetanus is a serious infection that causes fever, muscle stiffness, and can even lead to death. It is caused by bacteria found in dirt.
Most children are vaccinated as part of a routine checkup. After three initial doses of the tetanus vaccine (TD, TDAP), regular booster shots are needed to maintain an effective level of protection, usually every 10 years. It’s also common for adults to be vaccinated or receive a booster during a routine checkup. Check your vaccination record if you have one, or check with your doctor.
For simple wounds (e.g. closed, shallow, or clean), you will need a tetanus booster if you haven’t received one in the last 10 years.
For serious wounds (e.g. open, deep, punctured, or soiled with dirt), you will need a tetanus booster if you haven't had one in the last 5 years.
If you have a serious wound and you haven't received all of your tetanus vaccines (or you’re not sure if you have), you will need a tetanus booster shot and another shot of immunoglobulins to fight any tetanus bacteria that may have contaminated the wound.
Please be aware that supplies of the tetanus vaccine are not always stable in China and availability cannot be guaranteed. It is recommended that you get regular, preventative booster shots to avoid the need for urgent doses.