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Plasters are great for drying up children’s tears, but you do need to use them properly if you want cuts to heal well.

Give a child a plaster with a smiley face on it, and you can cure most problems, from a bloody toe to a bruised ego. But while children do often see plasters as a heal-all, it’s not always about sticking a plaster on a cut.


Read our article on basic first-aid tips for the home.

Here are five tips for using plasters the right way.

1. Keep it clean

Plasters create a barrier that protect cuts and wounds from dirt, germs and potential infections. Before putting a plaster on any wound, it’s important to clean the area and make sure there isn’t anything left inside the cut. If you cut yourself on the beach or near any other body of water, don’t rely on the water to clean out the wound. There could be bacteria or dirt in the water.

2. Stick with it

Leaving cuts or abrasions to dry out on their own is not a good idea. It’s important to put a plaster on, and leave it on until the wound heals. Cuts left open are exposed to germs and the area, or your blood, could become infected. Scabbing, which can happen if cuts are left to dry out, makes it harder for the wound to heal as healthy cells have to move around the scab to heal the cut. Scabs can also come off, creating more risk of infection, and they can leave scars.

3. Keep it wet

Moist healing is optimal, as it creates the right environment for cells to repair themselves. This is aided by the use of the correct, quality plasters. Things like blisters also heal better with plasters that absorb the blister’s fluids, while providing enough moisture for the blister to heal. This is not to say that getting plasters wet is a good idea; if your plaster is wet after you swim or bath, rather replace it with a clean plaster.

4. Choose the right plaster

There are plenty of options when it comes to choosing plasters and getting the right one for your wound can help it heal properly. Hypoallergenic ones are good for sensitive skin. Waterproof ones are best for when you don’t want the plaster to come off when exposed to water. Blister plasters have hydrocolloidal dressings that absorb extra moisture. Fabric plasters are stretchy and durable, and are available in strips so you can cut off what you need. Medicated plasters, with active ingredients, clear plasters and, of course, plasters with pictures on them are also available.

5. A slow approach

When it comes to taking plasters off, it is best to do so slowly. Ripping them off quickly, the method often recommended by parents, can do more harm than good by reopening the cut. Take them off carefully, and in the direction of hair growth. If they don’t come off easily, a little baby oil or olive oil rubbed on the edges may help loosen them.

Tamlyn Vincent