Scraped knees are a normal part of being a kid. Whether on the playground or at the beach, kids are likely to fall down and sustain a minor injury now and again — but some scrapes and cuts are more dangerous than others, especially if there could be a risk of tetanus.
Tetanus is a bacterial infection that can affect the nervous system and can lead to muscle spasms and stiffness. The bacteria Clostridium tetani can enter the bloodstream through an open cut or wound. If not treated, tetanus infections can be fatal — so it’s imperative that with any potential threat of tetanus you consult a medical professional.
A child who has contracted tetanus will usually show symptoms within 7 to 10 days of infection, though in some cases, symptoms won’t become noticeable for months. Symptoms can vary but the most common are muscle spasms and difficulty breathing.
Muscles may become stiff, often beginning with the jaw (hence tetanus’ other common name, lockjaw). As muscle stiffness spreads to other parts of the body, victims may have trouble swallowing or even breathing. In severe cases, muscle stiffness in the back can cause the spine to arch backwards.
Apart from muscle stiffness and spasms, other symptoms may include fever, headache, sore throat, and sweating.
If you or your child incur a bloody wound, whether it’s a scraped knee or deep cut, make sure to clean the wound thoroughly before bandaging. If the wound is especially deep or if your tissue came in contact with dirt, sand, rust, or soil, you should seek medical attention immediately.
Head to your nearest urgent care clinic so that a medical professional can assess the injury and determine if a tetanus booster shot is necessary. Even for individuals who have received their tetanus vaccine, a doctor may recommend a booster shot to provide immediate short term protection against tetanus.
Today, it has become a common procedure that all children and adults get a tetanus vaccination to protect against future exposure to the bacteria. As treatment of a tetanus infection is not uniformly successful, it is best to be prepared and have your children vaccinated. Follow up with your child’s physician during annual checkups to ensure that his or her vaccines are up to date and enquire about the possible need of a booster shot.
Know Your Nearest Urgent Care Center
A tetanus infection, just like any number of injuries, is obviously something that you don’t plan for. If you suspect that you or your child may be at risk of a tetanus infection, it may be necessary to make a doctor’s appointment.
It’s a good idea to know where your nearest urgent care center is located anyway, so that you can get medical attention quickly in the case of unexpected accidents. While a severe scrape likely isn’t life threatening and doesn’t warrant a trip to the emergency room, it also isn’t something you want to wait to have examined and treated by a doctor or nurse.