- Cuts, lacerations, gashes and tears. These are wounds that go through the skin to the fat tissue.
- Scrapes, abrasions, scratches and floor burns. These are surface wounds that don’t go all the way through the skin.
- Bruises. These are bleeding into the skin from damaged blood vessels. They occur without a cut or scrape.
FIRST AID Advice for Bleeding:
- Put a gauze pad or clean cloth on top of the wound.
- Press down firmly on the place that is bleeding.
- This is called direct pressure. It is the best way to stop bleeding.
- Keep using pressure until the bleeding stops.
- If bleeding does not stop, press on a slightly different spot.
First Aid Advice for Shock:
- Lie down with the feet elevated.
First Aid Advice for Penetrating Object:
- If penetrating object still in place, don’t remove it. Reason: Removal can increase bleeding.
When Sutures (stitches) are Needed
- Any cut that is split open or gaping needs sutures.
- Cuts longer than ½ inch (12 mm) usually need sutures.
- On the face, cuts longer than ¼ inch (6 mm) usually need to be seen. They usually need closure with sutures or skin glue.
- Any open wound that may need sutures should be seen as soon as possible. Ideally, they should be checked and closed within 6 hours. There is no cutoff, however, for treating open wounds to prevent wound infections.
Cuts Versus Scratches: Helping You Decide
- The skin is 2 mm (about 1/8 inch) thick.
- A cut (laceration) goes through it.
- A scratch or scrape (wide scratch) doesn’t go through the skin.
- Cuts that gape open at rest or with movement need closure to prevent scarring.
- Scrapes and scratches never need closure, no matter how long they are.
- So this distinction is important.
When to Call Us for Cuts, Scrapes, or Bruises (Skin Injury)
Call 911 Now (your child may need an ambulance) If:
- Major bleeding that can’t be stopped. See FIRST AID
- Deep cut to chest, stomach, head or neck (such as with a knife). See FIRST AID.
Call Us Now (night or day) If:
- You think your child has a serious injury
- Bleeding won’t stop after 10 minutes of direct pressure. See FIRST AID.
- Deep cut and can see bone or tendons
- Skin is split open or gaping and may need stitches
- Pain is SEVERE and not improved 2 hours after taking pain medicine
- Age under 1 year old
- Dirt in the wound is not gone after 15 minutes of scrubbing
- Skin loss from bad scrape goes very deep
- Bad scrape covers large area
- Cut or scrape looks infected (spreading redness, red streak)
- You think your child needs to be seen urgently
Call Us Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If:
- You think your child needs to be seen, but not urgently
- Very large bruise after a minor injury
- Some bruises appear without any known injury
Call Us During Weekday Office Hours If:
- You have other questions or concerns
- No tetanus shot in over 5 years for DIRTY cuts
- No tetanus shot in over 10 years for CLEAN cuts
- Doesn’t heal by 10 days
Parent Care at Home If:
- Minor cut, scrape or bruise
Care Advice for Cuts, Scrapes, or Bruises (Skin Injury)
Cuts, Scratches and Scrapes:
- Use direct pressure to stop any bleeding. Do this for 10 minutes or until the bleeding stops.
- Wash the wound with soap and water for 5 minutes. Try to rinse the cut under running water.
- Caution: Never soak a wound that might need sutures. Reason: It may become more swollen and harder to close.
- Gently scrub out any dirt with a washcloth.
- Cut off any pieces of loose skin using a fine scissors. Clean the scissors first with rubbing alcohol.
- Put an antibiotic ointment on such as Polysporin. No prescription is needed. Then, cover it with a Band-Aid or dressing. Change daily.
Liquid Skin Bandage for Minor Cuts and Scrapes:
- Liquid skin bandage seals wounds with a plastic coating. It lasts up to 1 week.
- Liquid skin bandage has several benefits compared to other bandages (such as Band-Aid). Liquid bandage only needs to be put on once. It seals the wound and may promote faster healing and lower infection rates. Also, it’s water-proof.
- Wash and dry the wound first. Then, put on the liquid. It comes with a brush or swab. It dries in less than a minute.
- You can get this product at a drugstore near you. There are many brands of liquid bandage. No prescription is needed.
- Use a cold pack or ice bag wrapped in a wet cloth. Put it on the bruise once for 20 minutes. This will help to stop the bleeding.
- After 48 hours, use a warm wet wash cloth. Do this for 10 minutes 3 times per day. This helps to reabsorb the blood.
- To help with the pain, give acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) or ibuprofen. Use as needed. See Dose Table.
What to Expect:
- Small cuts and scrapes heal up in less than a week.
Call Your Doctor If:
- Bleeding does not stop after using direct pressure to the cut
- Starts to look infected (pus, redness)
- Doesn’t heal by 10 days
- Your child becomes worse