Should You Bandage a Cut or Sore or Let It Air Out?

The short answer from a plastic surgeon
dad applied bandaid to child's knee

Q: Is it better to bandage a cut or sore, or air it out?

A: Airing out most wounds isn’t beneficial because wounds need moisture to heal. Leaving a wound uncovered may dry out new surface cells, which can increase pain or slow the healing process.

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Most wound treatments or coverings promote a moist — but not overly wet — wound surface. For example, healthcare professionals usually apply a topical antibiotic ointment to a scrape or small cut, and then cover it with gauze or a bandage.

This keeps new skin and other cells alive. It also helps protect the area from dirt, germs and further injury and may feel more comfortable than leaving a wound open.

But as is true for most of medicine, there are exceptions. Small dry, scabs from minor cuts and scrapes can be left uncovered. Also, pressure ulcers on the heels can often be left open to dry.

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However, if you’re concerned that a wound looks deep, is not healing or might be infected, a healthcare professional should examine it. 

Plastic surgeon Christi Cavaliere, MD

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