Cuts and scrapes are a normal part of any child's life. No matter how much you try to childproof your home and the immediate surroundings that your child moves and plays in, a skinned knee, elbow, and the like are sometimes inevitable.
This is especially true once your child begins mastering crucial motor skills like crawling, walking, running and climbing. You cannot possibly strap your kids down to prevent them from exploring, but you can equip yourself with the crucial knowledge to avoid infection once a skin wound is sustained.
Practical Tips in Caring for a Child's Skin Wound
• Stay calm - Some kids may bawl, while some may not care at all. The child's reaction is just secondary in importance. The real concern is that you remain calm when confronted with the sight of a child's bloodied lip or a gash in the forehead. You will need presence of mind to care for the injury, so do not flip out.
• Stop the bleeding immediately - Apply gentle pressure on the wound to stop any bleeding. A great tip is to use a dark colored washcloth so the blood will not be too obvious, as the sight might terrify the child (or you). Elevating the injured body part is also a good way to slow down bleeding.
• Wash away dirt - Once the bleeding has been taken care of, check to see if there are any dirt residue, splinters, broken glass, and other foreign objects lodged in the area. Remove these and wash the skin around the wound with running water and a mild soap.
• Dress the wound - After cleaning and washing the wound, gently pat it dry and apply an antibacterial ointment or a topical antiseptic solution to prevent infection. Then dress the wound with a fresh bandage.
• Change the bandage regularly - Change the bandage once or twice a day. Remind the child not to get the bandage dirty. Once a scab has formed to cover the wound, you can replace the bandage with colorful adhesive sterile pads to prevent the child from picking on the scab.
Knowing When to Call a Doctor
The practical tips mentioned above may only be effective for minor boo-boos. You should also take note of following scenarios where seeking immediate medical attention is the wisest thing to do:
• The wound will not stop bleeding even after you have applied direct pressure and elevated the bleeding area for more than fifteen minutes.
• The cut appears to be very deep and the edges might need to be sutured back together.
• An artery may have been damaged and blood is spurting from the wound.
• The wound shows telltale signs of infection after one to two days. Watch out for redness, swelling, presence of pus, or if the area is warm to the touch.
Prevention is always better than cure so always think ahead and be vigilant whenever your child is at play. Put away dangerous objects and always keep a first aid kit handy around the house.