Minor cuts, scratches and grazes

  • Make sure your hands are clean and dry before treating the area. Put on a pair of disposable gloves if you have them.
  • Clean the cut under running water and pat it dry with a sterile dressing or lint-free material. If possible, raise the affected area above the heart.
  • Cover the cut temporarily while you clean the surrounding area with soap and water and pat dry. Cover the cut completely with a sterile dressing or plaster.

Severe Bleeding

  • Put on disposable gloves.
  • Apply pressure to the wound with a pad, such as a clean cloth, or use your fingers until a sterile dressing is available.
  • Raise and support the injured limb. Take particular care if you think a bone has been broken.
  • Lay the casualty down.
  • Bandage the pad or dressing firmly to control the bleeding, but not so tightly that it stops the circulation to the fingers or toes. If bleeding seeps through the first bandage, cover the cut with a second bandage. If bleeding continues to seep through, remove the bandage and reapply a new one.
  • Treat for shock.
  • Dial 999 for an ambulance.

Objects in Wounds

Where possible, wash small objects out of the wound with clean water. If there is a large object embedded in it:

  • Leave the object in place.
  • Apply firm pressure on either side of the object.
  • Raise and support the wounded limb or part.
  • Lay the casualty down to treat for shock.
  • Gently cover the wound and object with a sterile dressing.
  • Build up padding around the object until the padding is higher than the object, then bandage over the object without pressing on it.
  • Depending on the severity of the bleeding, dial 999 for an ambulance, or take the casualty to hospital.

Rectal bleeding

Rectal bleeding (bleeding from the bottom) is often noticed as small amounts of bright-red blood on toilet paper or a few droplets that turn the water in the toilet pink.

In general, bright-red blood means the bleeding has come from somewhere near your anus and is a typical sign of piles (haemorrhoids) or a small tear (anal fissure) in the skin of your anus.

Although these are common problems, don’t let embarrassment stop you seeing your GP. You should always get rectal bleeding checked to rule out more serious causes. Around 10% of adults experience rectal bleeding every year in the UK.

If your blood is darker in colour and sticky, the bleeding may have occurred higher up your digestive system, in which case you should see your GP immediately or contact NHS 111.

Other Useful Information

  • NHS 111 is the new telephone service which has replaced NHS Direct. You can call 111 when you need medical help fast but it’s not a 999 emergency. NHS 111 is a fast and easy way to get the right help, whatever the time.
  • NHS.UK  is a website providing health and medical advice, an online symptom checker and a facility for searching for services near you.

Please note – The content on this website is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you are feeling unwell, make an appointment to see your GP or contact NHS 111. In an emergency, dial 999.


Last updated: August 3, 2020