4 First Aid Mistakes We’ve All Made (And What To Do Instead)

When was the last time you got a little bump, bruise or burn? Chances are it hasn’t been long. But the real question is, when you got said injury, how did you treat it?

Maybe you just ignored it and said a few choice words. Or maybe you relied on an old wives tale to guide your treatment. After all, who knows how to properly treat a cut? Turns out, it may be a lot easier than you think—and a lot more important.

To ensure optimal healing, while also preventing infection, make sure you avoid these common first-aid mistakes:

Myth 1: You should clean the wound with hydrogen peroxide.

Save yourself the sting. While it’s important to disinfect a new wound (even papercuts), hydrogen peroxide and rubbing alcohol can actually damage healthy tissue and make it take longer for your wound to heal.

Instead, rinse the cut with soap and water for five minutes to get it completely clean. If you’re still worried about infection, add some antibiotic ointment to top it off.

Myth 2: Let a wound air out.

Yes, it’s true that by allowing a wound to dry out, you’ll form a scab. However, this will only delay the overall healing process. Your wound needs moisture to get better and to regenerate new cells.

So after cleaning a wound, apply petroleum jelly and cover the skin with a bandage. Wash the wound and change the bandage daily until it goes away.

Myth 3: Apply ice to a burn.

If a burn is hot, it seems logical that something cold would help (i.e., ice is best). But this is far from the truth. In fact, ice, or very cold temperatures may freeze the skin, which only causes more damage.

Instead, run cool—not cold—water over it for several minutes. This will stop the burning action and reduce pain and swelling. Don’t break any blisters, which can increase your risk for infection. And keep the burn covered with a bandage that doesn’t stick to it.

Myth 4: Tilt your head backwards to stop a bloody nose.


We may be fighting against instinct here, but reclining your head backwards in the event of a nose bleed, just isn’t a good idea. That’s because when you tilt back, everything that was coming out of your nostrils is going to change direction and run down your throat instead (yuck!). Not only is that extremely unpleasant, but you’re also not actually stopping the bleeding.

So if your nose is running like a faucet, start by keeping your head upright, which will help to lower blood pressure in your nose. Next, use your fingers to squeeze the nostrils together for roughly 15 minutes. By then you should be in the clear.

Should you call for backup?

While these tips are great to keep in mind for minor injuries, they aren’t recommended for treating more serious injuries. When in doubt, don’t be afraid to call in the medical big guns. After all, that’s why they’re available 24/7 through our Emergency Departments, and 7 days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at ChoiceOne Urgent Care. At GMC, our experts are always prepared to help, no matter what.

You may also like...