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Whether at home or outdoors, it’s always possible that an accident can cause a cut or wound. Picking up broken glass, tripping and falling on the sharp edge of a coffee table, slicing your finger while cutting vegetables, or falling off a mountain bike onto a jagged stone are just a few of the endless ways that simply living your life puts you at risk for an injury.

After you suffer a cut or other wound that punctures the outer layer of skin and enters the flesh, it can be difficult to stay calm and think about what to do next. And since even minor cuts can become infected if first aid is not applied quickly and properly, it’s important to know what to do when a cut or wound occurs. This post offers tips about what to do immediately after suffering an accidental wound and the first aid supplies you should have to create your best first aid kit to ensure that you’re prepared to respond quickly and appropriately.

First, Stop the Bleeding

The moments right after an injury are extremely important. They can determine how severe the injury ends up being. There are injuries that are too serious for you to handle without immediate professional medical care and others that you can handle yourself, possibly with a first aid kit. In both of these cases, the most important thing is to stop the bleeding regardless of whether you have to go on to the doctor or emergency room.

First, find the source of bleeding. If covered by clothing, remove the clothing and apply pressure. Compressing the blood vessels that are bringing blood to the wound is the only way to control bleeding. If you have first aid supplies, pack the wound with gauze as you apply pressure. If your first aid kit contains a clean compress—a special bandage that applies pressure—you may use it instead of gauze. If you don’t have first aid supplies, use any clean cloth, such as a shirt, to apply pressure to the wound opening. If you can’t stop the bleeding in about ten minutes with gentle pressure or elevation, you should seek immediate medical attention. Keep the pressure on until a medical professional takes over.

Second, Clean the Wound

The next step is to clean the wound. Rinsing the wound with clean water is important, as is using soap and water to wash the skin around the wound. Try to keep the water cool because hot water can cause more bleeding.

You can also flush the surface of the wound with a mild saline solution made from a small amount of salt diluted in water. This works well because it’s similar to your body’s pH. Antiseptic disinfectants like alcohol or hydrogen peroxide should not be used because they can actually harm the damaged tissue and extend the time it takes to heal. So, it’s a good idea to make or buy some saline solution and put it in your best first aid kit. After the wound is clean, wipe the surface with clean gauze or a clean cloth to make sure it’s dry.

Cleaning the wound also means removing any foreign matter. Your best first aid kit should contain alcohol swabs and tweezers. Sterilize the tweezers with a swab before using them to remove any debris, such as splinters, small stones or shards of glass, from the affected area. Don’t use cotton balls because the cotton may stick to the wound, defeating the goal of removing the foreign material. If you can’t get all the debris out of the wound, then medical attention is required as soon as possible. If removing debris looks like it will cause additional trauma or tearing of the skin, don’t do it—wait for medical care.

Third, Prevent Infection with an Antibiotic

After the wound is clean, it’s time to use a topical antibiotic, which should be included in your best first aid kit. Some of the most common topical antibiotics are over-the-counter creams or ointments such as Neosporin or Polysporin. These preparations don’t actually heal the wound, but they keep it from becoming infected. They also keep the wound moist, which promotes healing.

Fourth, Close the Wound

For any wound or cut to heal, it must be closed. Once the bleeding is stopped and the wound is cleaned and dressed, the tissue on each side of the opening has to be pressed together and held in place until the body deposits collagen and bonds them back together. The less area the collagen has to fill, the less noticeable the scar. Typical first aid bandages can work for minor cuts, but when the wound is too large, a more serious wound closure solution is required. That’s why, in addition to typical bandages for smaller cuts, your best first aid kit should have the latest in wound closure technology—ZipStitch.

ZipStitch is the most advanced wound closure device available without a prescription. It is designed to enable virtually anyone to professionally close wounds that can’t be closed with bandages, on the spot, wherever they may be.

The innovative design is both easy to use and effective. The device consists of two 1.5 inch strips of a unique hydrocolloid pressure-sensitive adhesive and four precision zip-ties made of a medical-grade polymer that connect the 2 adhesive strips. The zip-tie strips enable micro-adjustment to precisely close the wound.

This design has several benefits:
  • Wound closure without needles, skin puncturing and associated pain
  • Easy to handle and control
  • Ability to adjust and customize the tension across the length of the wound so users can precisely control how they close the wound.
  • ZipStitch acts as a scaffold or cage around the wound, isolating and protecting the wound from user movement that can pull on the wound and disrupt healing.
    The technology has been used in operating rooms and ERs around the world since 2014. To date, Zip technology has been used as a non-invasive alternative to stitches to close wounds in over 500,000 procedures. It has been proven safe and effective in over a dozen clinical studies, delivering 8X better wound protection and less scarring than stitches or staples. In fact, most patients preferred Zip to stitches.

    For wounds larger than 1.5 inches long or are very wide, you should consider seeing a medical professional who can close the wound with stitches.

Always, Be Prepared

Living life subjects all of us to unavoidable risks, and it’s impossible to know when an injury will occur. If you are person who enjoys the outdoors, you are even more likely to encounter an injury or cut. Activities as diverse as hunting, rockclimbing, campaign, hiking, mountain biking may lead to cuts and scrapes. So, it pays to be prepared by creating your best first aid kit and keeping it with you wherever you are. In fact, you may consider multiple first aid kits: one for home and one for your car that goes with you when you engage in any outdoor recreational activities or sports. And be sure to stock both of your first aid kits with ZipStitch. Ideal for your best first aid kit, ZipStitch can provide peace-of-mind for outdoor enthusiasts who are out of range of a hospital.

  1. In an in-vivo study, more load in lb. was required to create a 1mm gap between incision edges approximated with Zip than with Ethicon 4-0 Vicryl subcuticular running suture. Data on file.
  2. Tanaka, Y. et al. Randomized Study of a New Noninvasive Skin Closure Device for Use After Congenital Heart Operations. Ann Thorac Surg 2016.