Most cuts and grazes are minor and can be treated easily at home by stopping the bleeding and cleaning the wound thoroughly and covering with a plaster or dressing. Minor wounds should start to heal within a few days.
An abrasion or scratch is a minor injury, a cut or graze which needs to be cleaned properly to remove dirt, a possible source of infection. The important thing is to promptly remove any foreign bodies from the wound such as dirt or grit and to make sure it is cleared and clean.
Stop the bleeding
Stop any bleeding before applying a dressing to the wound. Apply pressure to the area using a clean and dry absorbent material – such as a bandage, towel or handkerchief – for several minutes.
If the cut is to your child’s hand or arm, raise it above their head to help reduce the flow of blood.
If the injury is to a lower limb, lie down and raise the affected area above the level of their heart.
When the wound has stopped bleeding, clean it and cover it with a dressing to help stop it becoming infected.
Put the injured part under running tap water or pour water from a glass. Wash your hands and clean the wound with a gentle soap and water. No medicine is needed for a clean wound, nor the use of spirit or iodine which will sting your child’s skin.
To do this:
If a wound is caused by something dirty or rusty or by a pet it is advisable to follow extra precautions.
If in doubt always contact your medical professional.
Do you need to dress a superficial wound?
A dressing is generally not needed for a scratch or graze, although latest advice is to keep a wound moist rather than let it dry out when healing initially. If you feel that the wound might not remain clean or that it may attract flies, cover it with a sterile piece of gauze, available from your pharmacy. Keep it in place with a clean bandage or a clean piece of cloth. Check the wound daily and change the gauze. If the gauze or bandage is stuck to the wound, pour boiled and cooled water to remove it.
If the wound is oozing from the beginning, apply an antibacterial skin ointment on it and then put the gauze over it. If the ointment is not easily available, just sterile gauze will serve the purpose. Once the scab is formed, there is no need to cover the wound.
Keep the dressing clean by changing it as often as necessary. Keep the wound dry by using waterproof dressings, which will allow you to take showers.
You can remove the dressing after a few days, once the wound has closed itself.
Take painkillers if needed
If the wound is painful for the first few days, you can take over-the-counter painkillers.
It is important to get medical help if there’s a risk the wound could become infected, or you think it’s already infected.
A wound is at risk of infection if:
Your child’s wound will be examined to determine whether there’s any risk of infection. They may need a booster injection to prevent tetanus, and their wound may be closed with stitches, strips or special glue before a dressing is applied.
If your child’s wound is at risk of infection, it won’t usually be closed because this may trap any infection inside. Instead, it will be packed with a non-sticky dressing before being covered with a protective dressing until it’s safe to close.