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What to do in accidental kitchen knife injuries ?

Knife injuries are common in almost all houses. Almost all people might have suffered a major injury or minor cut from knives in their life time. Check out this article to know the care and treatment one has to adopt when a cut or an injury result from a kitchen knife.


Accidental knife injuries are the most obvious ones when compared with other kitchen injuries like burns, falls, eye irritations etc. Not only knives, a broken cookware, sharp handles, sharp edges in kitchen all can lead to some nasty cuts. However, injuries caused by kitchen knives are most common when compared with other sorts of injuries. Improper holding of knife is the most common cause of why most of us commonly suffer from knife cuts. Usually tip of fingers are the most commonly affected body parts which get exposed by knife cuts and this is because of their close proximity to knife edge. Improper technique itself is the culprit here. Proper technique is to keep finger tips curled and knife should be guided by our knuckles. We just do the opposite. We keep our finger tips very close to the sharp edge of the knife and that is why when we are in a hurry or simply do the chores carelessly, cannot save our finger tips from getting injured. Cutting board which we use should also be stable. If it isn't stable then place a kitchen cloth underneath it to gain stability. Keep the knife sharp and not blunt. Sharp knife uses less amount of force and rarely slips. Dull knife often slips causing an injury. Even if sharp knife slips accidentally, it causes straight cuts unlike dull knife results in jagged cuts. Straight cuts heal quickly.

Need for care

Knife cuts which we experience in kitchen are not life threatening. If injuries are not fatal then that does not mean that they are not matter of concern. Minor injury too requires some attention. This is because timely care is essential to prevent further complications. As soon as knife injury occurs, it is important to take care of it. Main goal of treatment is to prevent an infection and promote its quick healing. Accidental knife cuts are known as lacerations. Most of the knife injuries encountered very commonly while working in the kitchen can easily be treated at home and one rarely has to run to the the hospitals for the treatment of the same. Minor kitchen knife injuries are susceptible to infections whereas major injuries can lead to loss of blood and patient may even enter in the state of shock. Major injuries usually require medical attention.

Care for accidental knife cuts or injuries

Kitchen knife causes cuts and these cuts are susceptible to get infected. This is the reason that complete care should be taken to prevent occurrence of infection. If kitchen knife has caused some cut or an injury then just momentarily hold the work, put the knife down and take a moment to take care of that cut. Before cleaning the cut area, wash the hands thoroughly with water and soap to prevent risk of infection. Wash the cut thoroughly with some mild water and antiseptic soap or solution. Encourage some blood to ooze out of the lacerated skin for some time. If possible then squeeze a little extra blood from the cut. This process will help in the removal of bacteria if any and thus one can reduce the risk of an infection. This activity should be carried out over the kitchen sink and under running tap water. Once cut or laceration is cleaned properly, apply some ointment or cream with antiseptic or antibacterial properties over it. Later cover it with a bandage. It is always better to cover the wound with sterile gauze and tape. This is because if laceration is kept open then risk of getting contaminated with bacteria or other infections increases. Kitchen is the place which is home to many articles and no matter how clean and tidy kitchen is kept, still there are certain things like meat and other non-vegetarian foods which are prone to collecting bacteria. Exposure of lacerated skin to such bacteria and other microbes can definitely lead an infection. Throughout the day knife too is used to cut so many things and therefore carries risk for an infection.

Kitchen knife resulting in severe cuts

Merely finger tips are not just the ones which get affected with accidental knife injuries in the kitchen. Sometimes knife may cause a significant cut in palms or else cause severe blood loss from a digit. Sometimes it may slip and fall which can even cut an artery or nerve. If blood vessel gets damaged then definitely it is a matter of medical concern. In rest other cases, elevate the affected arm above the level of the heart in order to avoid blood loss. Apply firm pressure over the cut area. This will effectively reduce bleeding within 15 minutes. If blood loss does not stops then tie the affected area with some cloth or bandage. Firm pressure decreases the blood supply to that region and subsequently blood loss gets decreased. Apply direct pressure. the cut. Apply pressure with the other hand i.e., with the base of the palm or take some body's help if they are nearby. Sometimes in case of severe cuts, bleeding starts again as scab gets removed. In such cases, once again elevate the part and apply firm pressure. Certain individuals pass out due to the sight of the blood or due to extreme pain caused by severe cuts. They also experience some dizziness and weakness before passing out. If such symptoms get displayed then immediately make affected person to lie down before they trip and fall down which may cause another injury.


Usually minor knife cuts are not very painful. Person may experience some blood loss and a little localized pain initially which goes away on its own and thus no sorts of medicine are essential for the same. However, in case of severe cuts, discomfort and pain experienced will constantly remind affected person of the injury and thus painkillers has to be taken to reduce pain. Ibuprofen or acetaminophen is the necessary medication for relieving pain.

Keep a watch for an infection

Mere immediate care is not enough to prevent risk of an infection. One has to keep an eye on laceration every now and then until complete healing takes place. Smaller cuts will heal within a few days and one bandage itself is sufficient for their healing. However, larger cuts which require suturing and medical aid should be given enough care. Their dressings has to be changed frequently i.e., in fact daily. Mere changing of dressing is not enough. Every time cut or injury has to be cleaned properly before changing their dressings. Look for any signs of inflammation like infection, pus, swelling, increase in localized temperature, redness etc. Instead of healing, if these signs are getting radiated then definitely cut has undergone some infection. Immediately visit doctor for further treatment. Doctor will provide the necessary treatment which will help lacerated skin to progressively heal in a period of time and thereby it will clear on its own. Take a tetanus vaccination as preventive measure.

When to call for medical help after kitchen knife injuries ?

There are certain signs which should never be neglected and one should call for medical help as soon as possible. Following are the signs to seek medical help as quickly as possible-
  • Even after applying enough pressure if the cut is squirting blood and not just oozing it out
  • If the cut is deep enough needing an urgency for stitches
  • If any arterial or nerve damage is suspected
  • If amputated any digit
  • Larger cuts across the palm
  • Person has lost function in the affected part
  • Person is not immune with tetanus shots from a long time
  • If patient is suffering from other conditions like diabetes, heart diseases, hemophilia etc
  • If person starts fainting and complains of weakness
  • If person has collapsed or lost his consciousness,
  • After a few days, if lacerated skin becomes contaminated with an infection etc


Kitchen is considered to be the best as well as the worst place at the same time to get cut or injured with a knife. It is considered to be the best place as one can easily find some warm water and soap to clean an injury caused by a knife. It is the worst place because kitchen area increases risk of an infection. This is because plenty of uncooked food both vegetarian and non-vegetarian is present in plenty which definitely poses a risk for an infection as it carries bacterial risk. To prevent accidental knife injuries in the kitchen, make sure knife used is sharp enough and chopping block is quite stable. Suppose an injury like a cut has unfortunately taken place then neither panic nor become careless towards it. Most of us usually do not care for minor cuts and then end up having a severe infection. Any cut or laceration should be given complete care like applying pressure to stop bleeding, thoroughly cleaning, washing under tap water, covering with bandage, applying antibiotic ointment etc. If cut is a major one and bleeding is not ceasing then it is better to call for medical help as soon as possible. With right care we can prevent infections and avoid unnecessary troubles for us. Learn how to use herbal remedies to treat wounds to prevent infections and accelerate healing process.

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Author: Natarajan25 Sep 2017 Member Level: Gold   Points : 6

Detailed first-hand report of how to handle knife wounds. Agree with the author that most can be managed at home with a little help.

1. It is useful to remember that certain people are prone to bleed more even with a minor injury and they need more support (people taking aspirin or powerful blood thinners to keep their heart stents working well).

2, Certain people are prone to infections and hence need early attention and antibiotics (poorly controlled diabetics, patients with chronic kidney diseases).

3 High-risk injuries need medical help to look for nerve and tendon (helps in muscle movements) injuries (sharp fine blade injuries, deep penetrating injuries, injuries across the palm on both sides etc).

4.When there is profuse bleeding that does not respond to pressure, it's better to apply a pressure dressing and NOT to open it every few minutes to see whether bleeding has stopped or not.

5. If you tie a thread or put a rubber band at the base of a finger to stop bleeding, please remember that cutting off blood circulation for a long time can damage the finger itself. Many doctors keep it for not more than 15 minutes. If needed, we have to loosen it and then a few minutes later tighten it.

6. If at all the wound needs stitches, then it's useful to remember that it needs regular assessment as infection can set in quickly and infection in a closed wound is worse than an infection in an open wound.

7. It's useful to remember that in knife wounds, its always difficult to judge the depth of penetration and hence the depth of damage.

Author: DR.N.V. Srinivasa Rao26 Sep 2017 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 5

It is a good article. Nicely narrated. The time taken for blood clotting will vary from person to person. In some cases, it will take more time. So we should see that blood loss is not very heavy. As mentioned by the author through washing is required. After that, if any ointment is not available, apply turmeric that is available in the kitchen, It is a very good antibacterial powder and helps in avoiding the infection. The knife is made of steel and if any rust is there are on the knife chances of infection are very high. You are advised to visit the doctor in such case and get the required help from him. Don't give more importance for a minor injury as advised by the author, but due precautions are to be taken to avoid risks. Better consult a doctor in case it is felt necessary.
On the whole, the article is very useful and good for housewives who spend more time in the kitchen.

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