In this section
A wound is a break in the skin caused by a laceration (cut), abrasion (scrape), puncture, blister or incision (opening made during surgery or a medical procedure).
Caring for your child's wound is important to promote healing, avoid infection and minimise scarring. Different types of wounds require different dressing products and care. Your doctor or nurse will provide specific instructions, organise follow-up and discuss a home dressing
If your child's wound has been closed with stitches, glue or staples, see our fact sheet
Stitches and glue care.
If your child needs first aid treatment for a wound, see our fact sheet
Cuts, grazes and lacerations.
The following recommendations will help your child's wounds heal safely.
If your child has a simple wound, keep a clean, dry dressing on the wound. Dressings keep out germs and protect the wound from injury. A dressing also keeps the wound warm and moist so it can heal. Most dressings can be left on for several days.
Always wash your hands before and after touching your child's wound. This is the most important thing you can do to prevent infection. You can wash your hands with soap and water, or with an alcohol-based hand rub.
A balanced diet will give your child the building blocks their bodies need to heal a wound. Make sure your child's diet includes:
Any dressings can be removed one to two weeks after surgery (unless you are told otherwise). You can see your GP for a wound check or, if you feel confident, you can remove the dressing yourself. If the wound appears well healed a new dressing is not needed.
Your child may have unhealed areas that still require dressing changes. If this is likely, you will be instructed on how to change dressings before you leave hospital. If your child's dressing is complicated you will be given a specialist clinic appointment, have nurse visits
organised or be asked to visit your GP.
Dressing changes should take place in a clean area of your home. When changing the dressing:
To start with, it is normal for your child's wound to appear slightly red or raised in appearance. The edges of the wound should come together neatly and there should be no open areas. See your doctor if you are worried about your child's wound or think that it may be healing too slowly.
All wounds are potentially at risk of developing an infection. To ensure any infection can be treated as soon as possible, it is important to watch for the following signs of wound infection:
If any of the above symptoms occur, contact your GP or treating doctor as soon as possible, or take your child to the nearest hospital emergency department.
If your child has had neurosurgery, contact the hospital immediately if there is any sign of infection or fluid coming from the wound.
Will my child's wound leave a scar?
Yes – all wounds leave a scar, but there are things you can
do to minimise scarring. 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.
If the wound is covered by a dressing or plaster, how will I
know if it is becoming infected?
The skin around the wound and outside of the
dressing may become red or hot to the touch if an infection has developed.
Other signs of an infection are that your child feels generally unwell, has a
fever, or they have increased pain. If you are not sure, see your GP.
Developed by The Royal Children's Hospital Nursing Services, in consultation with the General Medicine, Surgery and Dermatology departments. We acknowledge the input of RCH consumers and carers.
Reviewed June 2018.
This information is awaiting routine review. Please always seek the most recent advice from a registered and practising clinician.
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This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. The authors of these consumer health information handouts have made a considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easy to understand. The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen detailed in these handouts. Information contained in the handouts is updated regularly and therefore you should always check you are referring to the most recent version of the handout. The onus is on you, the user, to ensure that you have downloaded the most up-to-date version of a consumer health information handout.