Children’s Health: Cut’s, Scrapes, & Punctures

Cuts, scrapes, and punctures make you bleed:

  • Cuts slice the skin open. Close a cut so it won’t get infected.
  • Scrapes hurt only the top part of your skin. They can hurt more than cuts, but they heal quicker.
  • Punctures stab deep. Leave punctures open so they won’t get infected.

You can treat most cuts, scrapes, and punctures yourself. But you should take your child to the emergency room if they are bleeding a lot, or if they are hurt very badly.

After bleeding for a few minutes, blood gets thicker. This is called clotting. Clotting slows down bleeding. Press on the cut to help slow down the bleeding. You may have to apply pressure for 10 minutes for a bad cut. Sometimes a cut needs stitches. Stitches help the cut heal.


Questions to Ask













Is the bleeding very bad?
  • Is the child in shock?
  • Does blood spurt from the wound?
  • Has the child lost a lot of blood?
  • Does the cut keep bleeding a lot after putting pressure on it for 10 minutes?
Yes: Seek Care
No

Does the cut need stitches?

  • Is it deep? (Does it go down to the muscle or bone?) And/or is it on the head or face?
  • Is it longer than an inch and on a body part that bends, like an elbow, knee, or finger? (Bending will put pressure on the cut.)
  • Does the skin on the edges of the cut hang open?
Yes: Seek Care
No

Has your child not had their tetanus shots? If not, is the cut or puncture from a rusty nail or dirty object from the soil?

Yes: Seek Care
No

Is it still bleeding after 20 minutes of pressure, even if it is a small cut?

Yes: Seek Care
No

Are there signs of infection a day or more after the wound?

  • Fever of 101o or higher
  • Redness, swelling, tenderness at or around the wound
  • Pain that gets worse instead of better
  • Sick feeling
Yes:See Doctor
No
Self-Care

Self-Care Tips


For cuts and scrapes

  1. Press on the cut to stop the bleeding. Do this for up to 10 minutes if you need to. Use a sterile bandage or a clean cloth. Use a clean hand if you don’t have a bandage or cloth. (Dry gauze can stick to the wound, so try not to use it.) Don’t use a band-aid.
  2. Clean around the wound with soap and water. (It’s okay if some gets into the cut, but it may hurt.)
  3. Press on the cut again if it keeps bleeding. Get help if it is still bleeding after 20 minutes. Keep pressing on it while you wait for help.
  4. Lift the cut higher than the child’s heart. This slows down blood flow to that spot.
  5. Put first-aid cream on the cut when it is clean and dry. Use a sterile cloth or cotton swab. Try Bacitracin, Polysporin, Neosporin, or Johnson & Johnson First-Aid cream. Don’t use mercurochrome, hydrogen peroxide, merthiolate, iodine, or Campho-Phenique. These can all slow down healing.
  6. Put one or more band-aids on the cut.
    • Put the band-aid across the cut so it can help hold the cut together.
    • The sides of the cut should touch, but not too tightly.
    • Don’t touch the cut with your hand.
    • You can use a butterfly bandage if you have one.
    • Use more than one bandage for a long cut.
    • For scrapes, make a bandage from gauze and first-aid tape.

  7. Leave the bandage on for 24 hours. Change the bandage every day or two. Change it more often if you need to. Be careful when you take the bandage off. You don’t want to make the cut bleed again. Wet gauze before you pull it off.
  8. Give your child acetaminophen for pain every 4 hours if they need it.

    (Note: Do not give aspirin to anyone under 19 years old unless your doctor tells you to. Aspirin and other medicines that have salicylates have been linked to Reye’s Syndrome, a condition that can kill.)

  9. Has your child had all their shots? Call the doctor right away if your child’s tetanus shot is not up-to-date. Ask your doctor if your child needs a shot. (See the “Immunization Schedule and Record” on page 81.) If your child doesn’t have a doctor, call your local health department.

For punctures that bleed a little

  1. Let the cut bleed to clean itself out.
  2. Take out anything stuck in the cut. Use clean tweezers. Hold a lit match to the ends to make them sterile.
    (Note: Don’t pull anything out of the cut if it has been bleeding badly or if it is near a big blood vessel. Get emergency care.)
  3. Wash the cut with warm water and soap. You can give your child a bath or shower to clean the cut.
  4. Soak the cut in warm, soapy water 2 to 3 times a day.
  5. Leave the cut open. You can cover it with a bandage if it is big or still bleeds a little.

American Institute for Preventive Medicine Written by American Institute for Preventive Medicine

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