What Should You Do If Your Child Has An Open Wound?
You are at the playground with your child. She is running around and having fun. Suddenly, you hear crying and see that she has cut her arm on a sharp edge of the playground equipment. Your child has an open wound and it is bleeding.
What you do next depends on several factors such as how deep the wound is, whether the bleeding stops, and even what type of material they cut themselves on.
Scrapes and cuts are an almost-unavoidable aspect of childhood. Normally, a scrape or small cut does not need much. However, if your child has an open wound, you’re probably, understandably, less sure what to do.
First things first, stop any bleeding by firmly pressing gauze or a clean piece of cloth against your child’s wound. Ideally, you should wash your hands and/or wear gloves before doing this. If the wound continues to bleed after a few minutes, keep the body part with the wound elevated for a few more minutes while continuing to apply firm pressure with a cloth.
Once the bleeding has stopped, rinse the wound with cool water. This helps to rid the wound of any debris that might be inside that could impede the healing process or cause an infection.
Next, apply some antibacterial ointment to your child’s wound. Some of these ointments also include a topical anesthetic which can help with any pain your child may be feeling from the wound. Be sure to follow the directions on the tube of ointment regarding age restrictions, how much to use, and how often you can re-apply.
Finally, a sterile bandage should be placed over the wound. This helps the wound heal more quickly, and helps keep dirt and other debris from entering the wound while it heals.
Now, open wounds are often not cause to go to the doctor. However, if your child develops an infection, you should take them in. If your child experiences increased pain, redness, swelling, warmth at the wound site, or if there is discharge coming out of the wound, schedule an appointment because these are signs of an infection.
When does your child need to be seen by a doctor right away for an open wound?
If it does not stop bleeding within 5 minutes, is wide or deep, has glass or an object in it, or if it is spurting blood, have your child seen immediately. Your child may need stitches. Also, have your child seen immediately if he or she was cut on rusty metal or was bitten by an animal. A tetanus shot may be necessary.
So, while your child getting an open wound might be scary for you both, it is usually something that can be dealt with with a little home care. When in doubt, you can always bring your child in for a look by one of our pediatricians here at MVP Pediatric.
Photo via Envato Elements