Minor incidents, scratches and bruises always happen when you least expect them. After you’ve taken care of the initial bleeding (if there is any) and made sure it’s nothing serious, it can help to quickly make a disinfectant to apply under a bandage to minimize risk of infection.
Assess the severity of the injury or scratch
If the wound is bleeding, stop the bleeding. The best way to do this is to apply pressure directly to the injury, and, if possible, to raise the affected area above the level of the heart (if the bleeding is heavy). This will decrease the flow of blood to the affected area and a clot will have time to form.
Clean the wound well. Start by cleaning thoroughly with cold tap water. Then clean the wound with an antibacterial soap such as Dettol (if you don’t have any, normal soap will do). If there is any debris left in the wound, you will need to use sterilized tweezers to remove it.
Know when to see a doctor. If the bleeding does not stop or if the wound is deeper or if “foreign bodies” (materials that cannot be removed easily) have entered the wound, it is important to seek advice from an experienced doctor.
Similarly, if the injured person has stepped on or fallen on a sharp object (such as a nail) or has cut themselves with a metal or rusty object, it is important to take to Emergency to receive a tetanus injection (if necessary) and an appropriate medical evaluation.
Make a disinfectant quickly at home
Pour hot water into a glass. This glass must be very clean. Then add a teaspoon of salt to the water.
Salt can be iodized. The ideal would be to use kitchen salt.
Mix well until all the salt is dissolved in the water. Using hot water will speed up dissolution.
Salt mixed with water is an effective disinfectant according to Dr. Sarah Forgie (a pediatric infectious disease specialist working at the University of Alberta).
Add a tablespoon of vinegar and mix well. Any type of vinegar (industrial or natural) will do. Vinegar contains mild acetic acid which cleans and disinfects wounds.
Vinegar has been recognized for its medicinal usefulness and anti-infective properties since Hippocrates (460 – 377 BC, he is considered the “father of modern medicine”).
If you don’t have vinegar, fresh lemon juice can also suffice.
Soak cotton wool in the previously prepared solution. Then apply to cuts and abrasions. It is better to open a new hermetically sealed packet of wadding to ensure optimal cleanliness.
Make a new preparation each time you need to repeat the operation. This is the surest way for the solution not to be contaminated.
Other choices in terms of disinfectants
You should understand that sometimes it is easier to store commercial disinfectant at home. It can be useful to have the essentials on hand in case someone gets hurt, especially if you have children at home (as they tend to get hurt more easily while playing).
You can buy it without a prescription at any pharmacy. You will find a more detailed description in the following paragraphs.
Buy antiseptics. Tincture of iodine and hydrogen peroxide are effective antiseptics. They will reduce the risk of the wound becoming infected.
Do not rub too hard when applying the antiseptic, as this may aggravate the wound or irritate it. Apply gently.
Apply the antiseptic using a cotton ball. Unlike your hands, the cotton ball will be clean and won’t further contaminate the wound.
Hydrogen peroxide is the most commonly used antiseptic and you can buy it at any pharmacy.
Use local antibiotics. Antibiotic creams and balms such as the Neosporin brand or a triple antibiotic can be applied directly to the cut. Then a bandage should be applied. This greatly reduces the possibility of a bacterial infection appearing in the wound.
Try other natural remedies that will decrease the chances of the wound becoming infected. It has been shown to “boost” the immune system and speed healing.
For example, you can gently rub aloe vera, honey or lavender oil on the wound before covering it with a bandage.