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Wounds such as cuts, grazes (e.g. scrapes or abrasions) and lacerations (e.g. a deep cut or tear of the skin) are a split of the skin caused by an impact of some sort. It is common for children to sustain these types of injuries through play, sport, accident or during ordinary
Cuts, grazes, lacerations and other wounds (e.g. punctures) can happen on almost any area of the body. Depending on the area affected and the severity of the wound, there may be a great deal of bleeding.
The most important thing to do is to try and stop the bleeding. If available, put on clean rubber gloves or clean your hands first with hand sanitiser, but do not delay treating the wound if these are not close by.
Thoroughly cleaning the wound will reduce the risk of infection. However, there is no need to use anything other than water as other substances may irritate the injured skin, or cause a delay in the wound healing. Antiseptic creams are not recommended and do not help the wound to
Minor wounds do not usually require any medical attention, but can be managed with standard first-aid procedures.
After removing pressure, the bleeding should have slowed to a trickle or have stopped altogether.
Cover the wound with a dressing (e.g. Band-Aid) or a small bandage. This will help to keep the wound clean and will protect the area from further knocks as it heals. Keeping the wound covered also keeps the wound moist, which aids healing.
As with minor wounds, try to stop the bleeding by applying pressure to the area. Take your child to the GP or local hospital emergency department in the following situations:
In the following situations, call an ambulance or take them to the nearest hospital emergency department immediately:
If you are alone with your child, it is better to call an ambulance rather than try to drive to hospital yourself while maintaining pressure to a wound.
How can I prevent my child’s wound from leaving a scar?
Taking good care of the wound and ensuring your child eats a
healthy diet helps all wounds to heal. Keeping the healed wound protected from
the sun for at least a year will prevent the scar from becoming darker.
Applying moisturiser in a massaging motion once the wound has come together may
also help with scar healing. Some people find that vitamin E cream is good for
reducing scarring, but this has not been proven by research.
My child has cut his lip and there is a lot of blood. Do I
need to take him to the doctor?
Certain parts of the body have a higher blood supply than
others. Parts of the face, including the tongue and lips, will often bleed very
heavily when cut. Follow this fact sheet’s first aid instructions, and have
your child seen by your GP or local hospital emergency department. Parts of the
body with a good blood supply tend to bleed more initially, but also heal
quicker than other parts of the body.
Why are antiseptic lotions and creams not recommended for
use on wounds?
Strong antiseptic solutions (e.g. hydrogen
peroxide or iodine) should not be used to wash open wounds, because they can
cause tissue damage. While antiseptic creams will clean the surrounding skin,
they can also be irritating to wounds, painful on application and delay
healing. For these reasons they are not recommended, unless you are
specifically advised to use them by your child's nurse or doctor, due to the
cleanliness of the wound or the risk of an infection.
Developed by The Royal Children's Hospital. We acknowledge the input of RCH consumers and carers.
Reviewed September 2018.
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