Even a small scrape or cut can become a major problem if bacteria gets into it and causes an infection. Basic first aid for cuts and abrasions includes cleaning the wound, applying an ointment and covering it with a plaster. The first aid aisle at your local pharmacy has dozens of ointment choices. Understanding the types of ointments and their ingredients helps you choose the best treatment to heal your injury quickly and safely.
Calendula ointment is a wound-healing staple in a natural medicine chest. The calendula flower contains phytochemicals that fight microbes and prod your immune system into battling infection, says James Duke in "The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook." Calendula ointment may also help wounds heal faster by helping your body produce collagen, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center website. Calendula creams and ointments are widely available at pharmacies or in the first aid aisle of your supermarket. Always check with your doctor before using herbal treatments.
Antibacterial combination ointments such as triple antibiotic creams help wounds heal faster, according to the University of Alabama, Birmingham. Most contain neomycin, polymyxin sulfate and bacitracin zinc in some combination, though some may contain only one or two of the ingredients.
Other herbal ointments
A number of herbs have anti-microbial properties. Ointments that contain extracts of marshmallow, tea tree oil, gotu kola, chamomile, echinacea and slippery elm bark may help wounds heal faster by preventing infection. Again, consult your GP before attempting herbal remedies at home.
Many people believe that antibacterial ointments are important for protecting cuts from infection. The University of Alabama Health System suggests that you can get a similar effect by cleaning the cut thoroughly with water and a soft cloth, then applying petroleum jelly to the cut to seal it and keep germs out.