This is the time of year when yard work, bare feet and people being more active mean lots of cuts, scrapes and bug bites. All of these little injuries come with the territory, but with a few basic tricks up your sleeve, you can help them to feel better and heal quickly.

A few weeks ago, I lugged my window air conditioners up from the basement and hoisted them into the windows. Of course, there was one incident that led to my knuckles getting all scraped up. The air conditioners are humming along great, but my knuckles still look a little rough.


This is the time of year when yard work, bare feet and people being more active mean lots of cuts, scrapes and bug bites. All of these little injuries come with the territory, but with a few basic tricks up your sleeve, you can help them to feel better and heal quickly.


Cuts, scrapes and wounds


"With a scrape or cut, the first order of business is to stop the bleeding and clean the area," said Lori Doucette, a certified wound-care nurse with the Natick, Mass., Visiting Nurse Association.


If it doesn't stop on its own, apply constant light pressure.


"Don't keep checking to see if it's stopped," said Doucette. "Hold it for 20 minutes, and then check it."


Be sure the area is completely clean by rinsing with clear water and using tweezers to pick out dirt or glass, if necessary. Soap can sometimes irritate wounds, so just use it on the surrounding area.


Once you've got it cleaned up, healing is the next step.


"Keeping a wound moist helps it to heal faster," Doucette said. "A thin layer of antibiotic cream will do that, and (it) will also help to ward off infection. Use a bandage or gauze and tape to protect the wound, changing the dressing at least daily or whenever it gets wet or dirty.”


After a few days, exposure to the air will speed healing.


"Be sure to watch for signs of infection," Doucette said. "If you notice redness, warmth or swelling, develop a fever or feel lethargic, contact your doctor."


Bug bites


Summertime also brings out the bugs, and many of them bite.


"Your No. 1 course of action is to wear insect repellent. Try to prevent getting bit in the first place,” Doucette said.


If you do end up with a bite or two, most likely it will just be an annoyance for a few days. But, occasionally, a bite can be more serious. Reactions like swelling around the bite area or shortness of breath signal the need to visit the emergency room.


"We have been hearing a lot about ticks for the last several years. When you come in from being outside, check yourself and your children for ticks. Be especially mindful of the hairline and behind the ears," Doucette said.


If you do find a tick, suffocate it with an alcohol-soaked piece of gauze, and it should come off easily.


For bee or other kinds of stings, Doucette says she uses a remedy from an old wives’ tale to ease the pain.


"Once I am sure the stinger is out, I mix up a paste of baking soda and water to put on the sting. It just takes the edge off."


Of course, watch closely for signs of infection or allergic reaction. When in doubt, call the doctor.


Betsy Wadland is director of development for the Natick, Mass., VNA, a nonprofit health care organization providing home care to thousands of people in Massachusetts. For more information, call the VNA at 508-653-3081.