At times, the amount of new information parents have to incorporate can seem overwhelming. As we seek to give our children the best medical care possible, and keep them healthy throughout the years, we’re constantly reading and absorbing new ideas. Examples might be nutritional information, data on vaccinations, sports safety considerations, and so on down the line. Parents definitely have their work cut out for them — but nothing is more worthwhile than looking after your child’s health!
There are many medical situations that aren’t so clearly defined, and parents don’t always know exactly what to do in a given situation. Cuts and scrapes are a good examples. Like it or not, they’re a part of life. Almost no one gets through childhood without the occasional cut or scrape.
The good news is that the vast majority of cuts and scrapes are very shallow and minor, and they don’t require anything but good old-fashioned first aid. What kind of first aid are we talking about, and how do we know if a visit to Family First urgent care or the ER is required?
The first thing to do before handling the wound is to make sure your own hands are clean. This will help prevent infection. Once that’s done, you need to stop the bleeding. In most cases, this requires a firm yet gentle pressure with a cloth or bandage (make sure whatever you use is clean and sterile). Elevation can also help. If you find the bleeding difficult to stop, you may need to make a visit to urgent care, with the possibility of stitches being required. Of course, if the child is losing any significant amount of blood, call 911 and/or head straight for the ER.
Once the bleeding has been stopped, the wound should be cleaned and rinsed with warm water. Again, this is done to minimize the chance of infection. It’s recommended to wash around the wound with soap, but to avoid getting soap in the wound itself.
Removing dirt or other materials from a cut or scrape is also crucial, and this can be tricky if the child is already in pain. Some medical professionals recommend a sterilized tweezers to remove debris in the most painless possible way. If there is a lot of debris in the wound, you may need to visit your local urgent care center in order to have it cleaned properly.
When the wound has been cleaned, antibiotic ointment can be applied. Don’t go overboard here; a thin layer is enough. Also be aware of how your child’s skin reacts to the ointment, as it’s possible for some ointments to irritate the skin (in which case you should stop using them).
Bandaging the wound with high quality materials (gauze, medical tape, bandages, etc.) is important. The wound needs to be covered until it heals — unless the cut or scrape is very minor. The dressing also needs to be changed daily and/or whenever it gets wet or soiled in any way.
Finally, observe the healing progress carefully and watch for signs of a possible infection. In most cases, the wound will heal quickly. Children are very resilient and their bodies are usually very fast at healing cuts and scrapes. If you think you notice an infection, or if the wound doesn’t seem to be healing, head over to Family First Urgent Care in either Oakhurst or Toms River and consult with one of our highly trained medical providers.