First Aid: Cuts

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First Aid

Many kids get a cut from falls or using sharp objects like scissors. Some cuts can be safely treated at home. Large, gaping, and deeper cuts — or any wounds that won't stop bleeding — need medical treatment.

What to Do

If the cut is severe and you can't get your child to a hospital right away or must wait for an ambulance, begin this treatment:

  • Rinse the cut or wound with water and apply pressure with sterile gauze, a bandage, or a clean cloth.
  • If blood soaks through the bandage, place another bandage over the first and keep applying pressure.
  • Raise the injured body part to slow bleeding.
  • When bleeding stops, cover the wound with a new, clean bandage.
  • Do not apply a tourniquet.

Seek Medical Care

If:

  • the cut is deep or its edges are widely separated
  • the cut continues to ooze and bleed even after applying pressure
  • the injury was caused by an animal or human bite, burn, electrical injury, or puncture wound (e.g., a nail)

Call 911 Right Away

If Your Child:

  • has a body part, such as a fingertip, that is cut off. Put the part that was cut off in a sealed plastic bag right away. Dunk the bag in a container with ice water.
  • has a cut and the blood is spurting out and difficult to control
  • is bleeding so much that bandages are becoming soaked with blood

Think Prevention!

  • Childproof so that infants and toddlers are less likely to fall or become injured on table corners, sharp objects, or doors that may slam shut.
  • Be sure your kids wear shoes when playing outside.
  • Watch teens when they are cutting with sharp knives.

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: April 2014



Related Resources

OrganizationNational Safety Council The National Safety Council offers information on first aid, CPR, environmental health, and safety.
OrganizationAmerican 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.
OrganizationAmerican Medical Association (AMA) The AMA has made a commitment to medicine by making doctors more accessible to their patients. Contact the AMA at: American Medical Association
515 N. State St.
Chicago, IL 60610
(312) 464-5000


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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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