Cuts and Scrapes: What You Can Treat and When You Need a DoctorEn Español (Spanish Version)
If you have children, you are no stranger to life's little calamities. They come in the form of skinned knees, scraped elbows, and stubbed toes. Here are some guidelines to help you treat those little accidents and know when it is time to seek help.
- If you are treating someone else's injury, wash your hands with soap and water. You should also put on disposable nonlatex gloves.
- To cleanse the wound, rinse it under cool water. Some organizations, like the American Heart Association, recommend using soap and water to clean the wound.
- Note: You do not have to use a stronger cleanser, like rubbing alcohol, to clean the wound.
- If there is bleeding, place a clean piece of gauze over the wound. Apply direct pressure.
- Apply triple antibiotic cream to the wound. This cream may help the healing process and reduce the chance of infection.
- If the wound is located on an area that can get dirty or rubbed, apply a bandage to the wound. Change the bandage every day or whenever it gets wet or dirty.
- Check to make sure the wound is not infected. Tell your doctor if you have increasing pain, swelling, redness, or warmth.
- Allow the scab to fall off by itself. Scabs that are picked take longer to heal. Plus, it may leave a scar.
If these injuries happen, get medical care right away:
- An injury that does not stop bleeding after five minutes of steady, firm pressure
- A deep puncture wound or an injury that appears particularly deep or gaping
- An injury that has foreign material embedded in it, such as glass, metal, or wood
- A bite from an animal or a human
- Any injury that shows signs of infection (eg, increasing pain, swelling, redness, warmth)
A child with a chronic condition, such as diabetes, should see a doctor right away if a wound is not healing well.
Here is what the American Red Cross recommends having in your home's first-aid kit.
- Absorbent compress dressings
- Adhesive bandages (different sizes)
- Adhesive cloth tape
- Antibiotic ointment packets
- Antiseptic wipes
- Space blanket
- Breathing barrier (for mouth-to-mouth resuscitation)
- Instant cold compress
- Nonlatex disposable gloves
- Hydrocortisone cream
- Roller bandage (different sizes)
- Sterile gauze pads (different sizes)
- Triangular bandages
- First aid book
To be even more prepared, sign up for a first aid class! Organizations like the American Heart Association and the American Red Cross may be offering classes in your area. Visit their websites for more information.
American Heart Association
American Heart Association. Heartsaver First Aid with CPR and AED. Dallas, TX: American Heart Association; 2006.
Cuts and scrapes: first aid. Mayo Clinic website. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/first-aid-cuts/FA00042. Updated November 16, 2011. Accessed November 17, 2011.
First aid: cuts, scrapes and stitches. Family Doctor.org website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/prevention-wellness/staying-healthy/first-aid/first-aid-cuts-scrapes-and-stitches.html. Updated December 2010. Accessed November 17, 2011.
Last Reviewed November 2011