Scratch wounds – How to take care of them?

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Our bodies undergo some wear and tear while going through everyday life. We are no strangers to small scratches on our skin when our elbows or knees scrape against something abrasive or when we get paper cuts on our fingers. Scrapes and scratches are quite common, hassle-free skin injuries that are easy to treat.

What is a scratch?

Scratches are usually small, irregular wounds caused when objects like thorns or fingernails scrape along the skin. Scratches are not typically deep. They are usually limited to the surface of the skin. They may pierce a little further sometimes, drawing small amounts of blood, but do not tend to be serious. However, scratches in sensitive areas, such as the face, as well as scratches from stray animals or pets, come with their own risks. Even small scratches pose the risk of bacteria and preventing infection is always important to keep in mind. 

Why do minor scratches and wounds hurt more sometimes?

You might have noticed that minor scratch wounds or cuts seem to hurt with a sharper pain than larger cuts. While this may seem like it defeats logic, there is actually a very reasonable explanation behind this. Most of our nerve endings are clustered in the upper layers of the skin. Since shallow cuts do not tend to bleed much, there are no blood clots that form. This leaves the nerve endings exposed and causes a sharp sensation of pain. 

Here are 3 easy steps to treat scratches:

Although scratches may be small injuries, leaving them to heal by themselves is not advisable. You should always follow the proper wound care steps for every injury you incur, however minor it may seem. Here is the correct procedure to follow for treating a scratch wound effectively:

1. Always clean

A clean and sterile wound is the first step to optimal healing. Apply pressure to the wound with a clean cloth to stop the bleeding and then clean the scratch wound gently to dislodge dirt, bacteria and visible particles.

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2. Apply a plaster

Covering the wound is vital to protect it from dirt and bacteria and to enable undisturbed healing. Gently pat your skin dry before sticking a wound plaster on it. Choose an appropriately sized wound plaster according to the size of your wound. A plaster that’s too big will only hamper your movement and cause problems.

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3. Protect

Change your dressing at regular intervals to ensure that your wound is well protected at all times. Try using a waterproof plaster so that you don’t have to worry about anything breaching the plaster. 

You need to be extra alert if your scratch wound was caused by one of the following:

Scraping against a rusty object
A scratch from a pet such as a cat or dog
A puncture wound from an unknown plant

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How long do scratches need to heal?

Typically, scratches tend to be minor and should heal in a matter of days. However, this depends on where the scratch is and how deep it is. Scratches in certain sensitive areas, such as the face, might heal comparatively slower due to thinner or more sensitive skin. The same tends to be an issue for older individuals. It is possible that a wound infection is the reason behind the delay in the healing process.  This is why it’s always best to keep an eye on the scratch and watch for signs of infection. 

How to care for cuts and scrapes on the face?

Scratch wounds on the face require special attention as it is a particularly sensitive area. You should follow the proper wound care steps mentioned earlier and take extra care if the injury is around your eye. You can use an ointment or petroleum jelly for faster healing. Do not touch your face often to make sure that the bacteria from your hands stay away from the wound.

 If you are uncertain about the correct way to treat the wound or unable to do so yourself you can consult a doctor.


Please note that the above recommendations are general care tips. Consult a health care professional in case of any uncertainty around wound treatment and healing.

Always see your doctor if a wound is deep, bleeding profusely or shows signs of infection. For diabetic patients especially, proper wound care holds the utmost importance. Do not hesitate to discuss any concerns you may have with your doctor or your podiatrist, even when it comes to minor wounds and cuts – especially if they’re on your feet.

The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Although compiled with great care, it is not a substitute for professional advice. If you have or suspect a health problem, consult your doctor immediately. 

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Caring for Scratches: Easy Steps to Treat Scratches, Healing & More | Hansaplast India

How to take care of scratches: Read our blog "Caring for scratches" to learn how to take care of cuts and scrapes faster and reduce the risk of infection.