Skin Trauma (Cuts, Scrapes, Bruises)
- Cuts, lacerations, gashes and tears
- Scrapes, abrasions, scratches and floor burns
- Bruises (bleeding into the skin) without an overlying cut or abrasion
- When sutures (stitches) are needed: Any cut that is split open or gaping probably needs sutures. Cuts longer than 1/2 inch (1 cm) usually need sutures. On the face, cuts longer than 1/4 inch (6 mm) need sutures. Any open wound that may need sutures should be checked and closed within 6 hours if possible
See More Appropriate Topic
- If it's a puncture, see PUNCTURE WOUND
- If there's a sliver in the skin, see SPLINTER OR SLIVER
- If injury looks infected, see WOUND INFECTION
Call 911 Now (your child may need an ambulance) If
- Major bleeding that can't be stopped
- First Aid: Apply direct pressure to the entire wound with a clean cloth
Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If
- You think your child has a serious injury
- Bleeding won't stop after 10 minutes of direct pressure
- Cut is very deep (e.g. can see bone or tendons)
- Skin is split open or gaping and may need stitches
- Age < 1 year old
- Dirt or grime in the wound is not removed after 15 minutes of scrubbing
- Bicycle-spoke or washing machine 'wringer' injury
- Skin loss from bad scrape goes very deep
- Skin loss involves > 10% of body surface (Note: the hand's surface equals 1%)
- Cut or scrape looks infected (redness, red streak or pus)
Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 and 4) If
- You think your child needs to be seen
- Several bruises occur without any known injury
- Very large bruise follows a minor injury
- No tetanus booster in > 10 years (5 years for dirty cuts at higher risk for tetanus)
Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If
- You have other questions or concerns
Parent Care at Home If
- Mild cut, scrape or bruise and you don't think your child needs to be seen
Home Care Advice for Mild Bruises, Cuts and Scrapes
- Apply an ice pack for 20 minutes once to stop the bleeding.
- After 48 hours apply a warm wash cloth for 10 minutes 3 times per day to help reabsorb the blood.
Cuts, Scratches and Scrapes (abrasions)
- Apply direct pressure for 10 minutes to stop any bleeding.
- Wash the wound with soap and water for 5 minutes. (Caution: never soak a wound that might need sutures, because it may become more swollen and difficult to close.)
- For any dirt, scrub it gently with a washcloth.
- Cut off any pieces of loose skin using a fine scissors (cleaned with rubbing alcohol).
- Apply an antibiotic ointment, covered by a Band-Aid or dressing. Change daily.
- Pain Medicine: Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen as needed for pain relief.
Call Your Doctor If
- Looks infected (pus, redness, increasing tenderness)
- Doesn't heal within 10 days
- Your child becomes worse or develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms