How can I identify the difference between a minor cut and a major cut?

What Are the Differences Between Minor & Major Cuts or Wounds?

Cuts, scrapes and grazes are everyday occurrences especially amongst children. Many cuts can be treated at home by cleaning the wound, applying an antiseptic and dressing accordingly. However, some cuts and abrasions may need medical attention. Below are some ways to distinguish between a minor and major cut, and when to seek your doctor’s advice.

  • A minor cut will be near the surface of the skin and can be treated from home. A wound that is very large, over a quarter of an inch deep (approx. 0.64cm), on the face or reaching the bone will require medical attention.1
  • If the wound is caused by a human or animal bite, a rusty object, fishhook or nail, call your doctor promptly.1,2
  • Seek medical advice if the wound has jagged edges or the edges of the cut gape open.3
  • Call your doctor if a cut, abrasion or other wound shows any sign of infection like warmth or redness, a painful or throbbing sensation, fever, swelling or pus.1
  • See your doctor if a cut or abrasion has dirt or debris that is not easily removed to prevent infection.4

Call your local emergency number if the any of the following occurs:

  • There are incised cuts from sharp objects like knives or shards of glass.2
  • If bleeding cannot be stopped after 10 minutes of direct, firm pressure or if the patient cannot feel the injured area, seek immediate medical aid.1

If you are unsure whether a cut is minor or major, consult your healthcare professional for further advice.

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