Don’t we all rush to the sound of a whimper to kiss away the pain? “Mommy kiss it and make it feel better,” she pleads. I know I’m guilty, but I also know rather than making it better we are actually introducing bacteria and germs from our mouths into the freshly injured delicate skin. So instead let’s try some alternative steps to encourage proper care and promote healing.
Most cuts are just on the surface of the skin and don’t need to be sutured. For these types of cuts you should:
- Apply direct pressure for 10 minutes to stop the bleeding.
- Wash the cut with soap and water for 5 minutes.
- Remove any loose or hanging skin with small scissors.
- Apply antibiotic ointment and cover with a Band-aid or gauze.
- Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen as needed for pain.Things you shouldn’t do:
- Don’t use alcohol or Merthiolate on open cuts. It stings and damages the good tissue. Hydrogen peroxide is not used both because it will break down normal clots and is a weak germ-killer.
- Don’t KISS an open wound because the scrape will be contaminated by the germs normally found in a person’s mouth.
- Don’t pick off the scabs. Let them fall off by themselves or it may cause a scar.When to call the doctor:
- If the cut looks infected (yellow drainage appears).
- Pain, redness, or swelling worsens 48 hours after the injury.
- If it hasn’t healed within 10 days.Other types of cuts might need sutures:
- Split open or gaping.
- Longer than ½ inch.
- If it is on the face and is longer than ¼ inch.
Have a gaping cut examined within four hours of the injury. The sooner the cut is closed the less risk it is for getting infected. A physician needs to look at any open cut regardless of how long ago the injury occurred.
Watch for signs of infection:
- Infection usually starts within 24-72 hours after the injury. Pain should diminish after 2 days, so watch for worsening pain.
- Redness, swelling, tenderness and pus develop.
- Red streaking from the cut.
- If the infection reaches the bloodstream a fever will be present.
Call immediately with the following:
- If it is extremely tender.
- Unexplained fever over 100 degrees F.
- Red streaking appears.
- If the infection is on the face.
- If your child looks or acts very sick.
Call within 24 hours if:
- You can see pus in the cut.
- A pimple starts to form at the cut.
- If the pain is worse than it was the second day.
Last but not least, we need to make sure the child is up to date on all required vaccines to insure no complications from this injury. The needed vaccine is DTaP or tetanus booster depending on the age of the child and nature of the injury. All cuts caused by an unclean or metal object are at risk for tetanus. A tetanus booster can wait 24 hours without increasing the risk of infection. On the other hand, if the child has never been immunized against tetanus, they need to be seen immediately.
Next time you hear the cry of a scraped knee or a cut finger, reassure your child with a hug and by following the above steps. And soon that “ouchy” will really be gone!