Most small cuts don't present any danger to kids. But larger cuts often require immediate medical treatment. Depending on the type of wound and its location, occasionally there is a risk of damage to tendons and nerves.
What to Do:
For Minor Bleeding From a Small Cut or Abrasion (Scrape):
- Rinse the wound thoroughly with water to clean out dirt and debris.
- Then wash the wound with a mild soap and rinse thoroughly. (For minor wounds, it isn't necessary to use an antiseptic solution to prevent infection, and some can cause allergic skin reactions.)
- Cover the wound with a sterile adhesive bandage or sterile gauze and adhesive tape.
- Examine the wound daily. If the bandage gets wet, remove it and apply a new one. After the wound forms a scab, a bandage is no longer necessary.
- Call your doctor if the wound is red, swollen, tender, warm, or draining pus.
For Bleeding From a Large Cut or Laceration:
- Wash the wound thoroughly with water. This will allow you to see the wound clearly and assess its size.
- Place a piece of sterile gauze or a clean cloth over the entire wound. If available, use clean latex or rubber gloves to protect yourself from exposure to possible infection from the blood of a child who isn't your own. If you can, raise the bleeding body part above the level of the child's heart. Do not apply a tourniquet.
- Using the palm of your hand on the gauze or cloth, apply steady, direct pressure to the wound for 5 minutes. (During the 5 minutes, do not stop to check the wound or remove blood clots that may form on the gauze.)
- If blood soaks through the gauze, do not remove it. Apply another gauze pad on top and continue applying pressure.
- Call your doctor or seek immediate medical attention for all large cuts or lacerations, or if:
- you're unable to stop the bleeding after 5 minutes of pressure, or if the wound begins bleeding again (continue applying pressure until help arrives)
- you're unable to clean out dirt and debris thoroughly, or there's something else stuck in the wound
- the wound is on the child's face or neck
- the injury was caused by an animal or human bite, burn, electrical injury, or puncture wound (e.g., a nail)
- the cut is more than half an inch long or appears to be deep — large or deep wounds can result in nerve or tendon damage
If you have any doubt about whether stitches are needed, call your doctor.
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: September 2013
|National Safety Council The National Safety Council offers information on first aid, CPR, environmental health, and safety.|
|American Red Cross The American Red Cross helps prepare communities for emergencies and works to keep people safe every day. The website has information on first aid, safety, and more.|
|American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.|
|First Aid: Cuts Most cuts can be safely treated at home. But deeper cuts - or any wounds that won't stop bleeding - need emergency medical treatment.|
|First Aid: Falls Although most result in mild bumps and bruises, some falls can cause serious injuries that need medical attention.|
|Cellulitis Cellulitis is an infection of the skin and underlying tissues that can affect any area of the body. It begins in an area of broken skin, like a cut or scratch.|
|Blood Blood is vital to bodily function. Read this article for the basics about blood, blood cells, blood diseases, and more.|
|Bites and Scratches Animal bites and scratches, even minor ones, can become infected and spread bacteria to other parts of the body, regardless of whether the animal is a family pet or a wild animal.|
|First-Aid Kit A well-stocked first-aid kit, kept in easy reach, is a necessity in every home. Learn where you should keep a kit and what to put in it.|
|Childproofing and Preventing Household Accidents You might think of babies and toddlers when you hear the words "babyproofing" or "childproofing," but unintentional injury is the leading cause of death in kids 14 years old and under.|
|Staph Infections When skin is punctured or broken for any reason, staph bacteria can enter the wound and cause an infection. But good hygiene can prevent many staph infections. Learn more.|
|First Aid: Animal Bites Animal bites and scratches that break the skin can cause infection. Rarely, animal bites can cause rabies, a dangerous, life-threatening disease.|
|First Aid: Nosebleeds Although they can be serious, nosebleeds are common in children ages 3 to 10 years and most stop on their own.|
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2014 KidsHealth® All rights reserved.
Images provided by iStock, Getty Images, Corbis, Veer, Science Photo Library, Science Source Images, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com