Parents have been asking for my aid, I guess you would call it “First” aid, in understanding when a doctor should examine their child’s cuts and bruises. Let me see if I can leave no one wounded with some information on minor cuts.

Most cuts or scrapes to the skin surface can be handled safely and well at home.  The treatment is simple. It begins with lots of washing of the cut with soap and water to clean debris out of the cut.

Once clean, apply pressure to stop the bleeding with a gauze pad. Then cover the cut with a bandage on top of another gauze pad large enough to cover the cut and the skin that surrounds it.

When do you worry? If the edges of the cut are widely separated, the cut seems deep, or continues to ooze and bleed despite the pressure, then seek medical assistance. If the cut is on the lip and crosses onto the face, then a health care professional should be consulted. It’s possible that stitches or special adhesives are needed to bring the cut together.

If the cut is due to an animal bite or scratch, speak with your child’s health care professional to see if antibiotics are warranted. If you are unsure whether or not your child has their tetanus shots up to date, that warrants a call as well. 

Of course the best way to deal with a cut is not let it happen, so make sure your home is safety-proofed appropriately. Your pediatrician or child health care professional can help with this activity as well. 

Hopefully tips like this will bandage any concerns you have when it comes to knowing when to worry about your child’s cuts and bruises.

Lewis First, MD, is chief of Pediatrics at The University of Vermont Children’s Hospital and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Robert Larner, M.D. College of Medicine at the University of Vermont.  You can also catch “First with Kids” weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and MyNBC 5, or visit the “First with Kids” video archives at www.UVMHealth.org/MedCenterFirstWithKids.

Lewis First, MD, is chief of Pediatrics at The University of Vermont Children’s Hospital and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Robert Larner, M.D. College of Medicine at the University of Vermont.

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