Why is it recommended to put salt on cuts?

04 November 2007



Why is it recommended to put salt on cuts? It seems to be popular advice with dealing with cuts on the inside of your mouth, for example, but what’s really happening and is using salt actually a good idea?


A lot of bacteria, especially the ones in the mouth like Streptococci and some of the other mouth-dwelling organisms, are quite salt-sensitive.

For them, a big dose of salt is a bit like putting salt on a slug. It pulls the water out of the bacteria and dehydrates them, which can damage or disable them.

But some other bacteria, like Staphylococcus aureus, actually like salt; so if you have a wound on your finger it might not actually be so good for that because it will kill the bugs in there which are not Staphs, removing the competition for Staphylococci that are there; so you might end up with your wound being colonised entirely by Staph!

Overall, salt is quite good in very high concentrations because it stops a range of bugs growing, which is why meats and produce are salted to preserve them. But, the likelihood of you getting enough concentration of salt into a wound to kill the bugs is quite unlikely. It does have a soothing effect though, especially on mouth ulcers!

[This topic - on rubbing salt into a wound - has also been discussed on the Naked Scientists science forum] 


Have an impacted wisdom tooth and throat infection. So in slot of pain right now. Can only get to dentist tomorrow. Took some salt and applied to swollen gum and immediately pain is less. Well for now

I've never tried salt on a fresh cut my dad used to swear by it said it only hurt old cuts long as cut super fresh wont feel a thing . He even cut his foot with a lawn mower and used it to clot not sure if he was immune or if there might be truth to what he said I'm to chicken to try it out

but it stings, how would I reduce the pain.

Slap yourself on another part of your body right before you do the salt treatment. this will focus your pain feeling on somewhere else. This is a technique used commonly for delivering shots, so this is good for reducing short term pain.

yeah break a leg, put a knife in your chest and put a cigarette in your eyes,
this will for sure help reduce the pain from salt in a 1mm cut because your attention goes to other areas, topnotch advise!

Who hurt you and when snowflake?

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