Cuts and scrapes are a part of childhood. In fact, your child probably has at least two or three on her body right now. Some are minor and some more serious. Sometimes it’s difficult to know how significant a cut or scrape actually is.
So what should you do when your child has a small cut or scrape? What about a bigger one? How do you know when to take her to urgent care?
How to treat cuts and scrapes
First, wash your hands before you help your child. You want to prevent the wound from getting infected. Ask your child to sit or lie down before you begin treatment.
Hold the wound under cool water (not hot water) and gently dab it with a clean cloth. You can also clean the area around the wound with mild soap and water. Don’t use alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or similar substances to clean the cut, as they can cause pain and irritation and won’t be any more effective than clean water.
If there is some dirt or debris in the wound, remove it.
If the cut is bleeding, grab sterile gauze or a clean cloth and press it firmly on the wound with your palm until it stops bleeding. If the gauze soaks through, that’s okay; don’t remove it. Place another layer of gauze on top. Keep pressure on the wound until the bleeding stops.
To protect against infection, put a layer of antibacterial ointment on the wound. If a cut or scrape is minor and unlikely to get dirty, you can let it heal in open air without a bandage. If you feel it should be covered, use an adhesive bandage until a healthy scab has formed.
At this point you can let it heal without a bandage.
Prevent further infection
If the wound is deeper, make sure your child is up to date on tetanus immunizations. If not, make an appointment right away.
It’s generally not advised to use oral antibiotics simply to prevent the risk of infections from minor wounds. These powerful medications should generally only be used when someone has a confirmed bacterial infection.
Help cuts and scrapes heal well
Try to keep cuts and scrapes out of the sun; too much sun may lead to a more obvious mark on the skin,
or even a scar. You can cover the cut with clothing or a bandage.
When to see a doctor
Most minor cuts and scrapes can be treated at home, but deeper or more complicated cuts may need to be treated by a doctor. Visit an urgent care center in the following cases:
- The bleeding won’t stop
- The cut looks deep or is still opening
- The edges are far apart from each other
- The cut was caused by an animal bite or a bite from another child
- The wound is a puncture wound, and/or you can’t clean it properly
- Your child isn’t using the affected part of the body
- The injury affects sensitive areas like the face, eyes or genitals
- You notice or suspect signs of infection such as pain, redness, pus, or fever
Dealing with cuts and scrapes like a pro
Most minor cuts and scrapes can be dealt with at home by keeping the above tips in mind. But if your child’s cut or scrape seems to be on the serious side, a visit to your local urgent care center is a safer bet.