Caring for scratches

These are slight injuries that happen when a sharp object, like a fingernail or thorn, scrapes along the skin. Scratches can also be caused by cats or other animals.

Graphical representation of hand washing as a wound treatment step in the Leukoplast wound care advisor.

1. Wash your hands:

Wash and dry your hands thoroughly.
Graphic representation of a hand pressing a compress on a wound to illustrate the stopping of the bleeding as a treatment step.

2. Stop the bleeding:

If the wound is bleeding, apply gentle pressure to the area with a clean gauze bandage or cloth and elevate the wound until bleeding stops.

Graphical representation of a running tap to illustrate the rinsing of the wound as a wound treatment step in the Leukoplast wound care advisor.

3. Clean the wound:

Clean the wound under drinking-quality running tap water.
Graphic representation of a hand absorbing fluid with a cloth to illustrate drying of the wound as a wound treatment step.

4. Dry the skin:

Pat the area dry with a clean towel.

Graphic representation of a hand applying a wound dressing to another wrist to symbolize covering the wound as a treatment step.

5. Dress the wound:

Cover the wound with an adhesive dressing, such as one of the specialized wound dressings below.

How long since the last tetanus shot?

Please consult a doctor to consider a tetanus booster, especially if the wound is deep.
Tetanus bacteria are found in soil, intestinal contents, and feces of horses, and less commonly, cattle and other animals. Remember that cats (and also dogs) carry many pathogens on their claws. Particularly a cat scratch treatment is therefore a good opportunity to refresh your tetanus vaccination! 1

When to seek medical advice

Most scratches are minor and can be dealt with at home. A visit to the doctor is necessary, however, if the scratch

  • is in the face, especially near the eyes.
  • is contaminated with dirt.
  • shows signs of infection.

How to recognize an infected wound

If a wound becomes infected, the body's reactions to invading pathogens can be a warning signal. Pay attention to whether the wound

  • feels warm,
  • is swollen and reddened,
  • hurts when touched,
  • smells unpleasant,
  • or secretes pus.

Should you notice any of these signs or a body temperature above 99.5 °F, please consult with your health care practitioner! 2

When in doubt, see a medical expert

Many common wounds can be dealt with at home. But when should a doctor be consulted? Scroll down for more information!

Pictogram showing a medical expert.

Expert wound care for scratches

Leukomed® T plus

Skin-friendly sterile dressing with wound pad for small to medium-sized wounds.

Leukoplast® barrier

Waterproof yet breathable dressing for minor wounds helps to prevent infection.