I grew up having my mom drench my scrapes and cut fingers with mercurochrome, that reddish brown antiseptic that is still used in many households in the world. The FDA has wisely forbidden mercurochrome (mercury, Alice's Mad Hatter); so what are the nuts and bolts of home-based care of simple wounds in 2012?
First, stop the bleeding with pressure with a clean cloth.
Second, and most importantly, water, water and more water. If possible, place the injured body part under cool, running water and let it run and run. Use soap on the surrounding skin, but not in the wound itself. Tweeze out any particles that you can't wash out.
Third, there is considerable controversy about the need for topical antibiotic creams. If you do step two meticulously and irrigate well, it is not likely that you need an antibiotic. When pressured by patients to recommend an antibiotic "cream," I go with Bacitracin as it has fewer local reactions than Neomycin. Better yet, petroleum jelly will keep the wound moist which is helpful in preventing scarring.
Finally, apply an adhesive bandage. I prefer ones with Bert and Ernie.
Dr. Mohler has practiced family medicine in Grand Junction for 38 years. He has a particular interest in pharmaceutical education. Phil works part-time for both Primary Care Partners and Rocky Mountain Health Plans.