What to do if your child has a wound?

Children are often energetic and playful. They always come up with fun, crazy ideas, that sometimes are not the safest. Even though parents tend to put all their effort into keeping their children safe, accidents do happen. It’s in these times of need that a parent always have to be prepared and know the best ways to take care of their child’s wound at home, or - depending on the severity of the wound - know how to identify when it’s time to take the little one to the doctor for a proper treatment.

The first step to help your little one when an accident occurs is to identify what kind of wound you’re dealing with. If your child has an open wound, you can examine it closely to determine what kind of wound it is. There are three main types of open wounds that you can take care of at home:

- Abrasion

These are caused when the skin rubs against a rough surface. Commonly, these types of wounds are called scrapes or graze, except when they’re caused by contact with the pavement or some hard ground, in which case it is called road rash. Abrasion wounds are very common and usually happen in elbows, knees, shins, ankles, and upper extremities.

- Laceration

These are irregular wounds caused by the tearing of the skin where it has been in contact with a sharp object or a blunt object that impacts the skin with lots of force. Most of these are superficial, but some can be very serious, affecting deeper tissues in the skin.

- Puncture

When a sharp object pierces the skin, the hole left in it by the object is a puncture wound. Usually, these types of injuries don’t cause much bleeding and heal easily. However, it all depends on the severity of the wound.

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Tips for treating a minor wound at home

Minor wounds like cuts and scrapes can be easily and safely treated at home. These are not serious and should heal in a short period of time. However, to be able to clean the wound properly to avoid future complications with it there are a few tips you can follow:

- Before handling the wound, it’s important that you wash your hands thoroughly using soap and clean water to get rid of germs and dirt, so you can safely manipulate the wound.

- Once you’re clean, it’s time to clean the wound. To do this, wash the wound with clear water to remove any trace of dirt or other particles that can be in the area.

- Remember to also clean the area surrounding the wound with clear water, so there’s no chance of it to be contaminated. Do not put soap in the wound, since this can make it worse, causing irritation and pain.

- If the wound has debris on top, use disinfected tweezers to remove it (clean the tweezers previously using isopropyl alcohol). If the debris is located too deep into the wound, and can’t be cleared, then you will need to go to the doctor.

- Control bleeding by applying direct pressure to the wound using a piece of gauze. This will stop the blood flow eventually, and it helps reduce swelling.

- If needed, wrap the wound using sterile bandages or dressing. Remember that not all wounds need a bandage, some are small enough that can heal on their own.

- Keep the wound clean and dry for five days and have plenty of rest.

When to take your child to the doctor for wounds

Even though some wounds can be safely treated at home, more serious injuries need to be examined by a trained healthcare professional. You will need to visit the doctor if any of this situations apply:

- If your child has any open wounds more than an inch deeper, then it’s better to take him or her to the doctor for an evaluation.

- In case the bleeding doesn’t stop when applying direct pressure, or if there’s a high flow of blood.

- When the bleeding lasts for more than twenty minutes, this could be the sign of a more serious injury or a complication.

- If bleeding is the result of a serious accident, then it’s recommended to go to the doctor as soon as possible.

- If an object has punctured the skin and it’s still there.

- Cuts that are near the eye or the cartilage of the nose or ear are more serious than others and tend to bleed a lot. In these cases, it’s recommended to take the child to the doctor to see if there’s potential serious damage to the eyes, nose or ears.

Complications to look for when having an open wound

If not taken care of properly, wounds can become infected, due to germs, dirt, or other particles that could have bacteria and germs. Infections are the main risk in these type of injuries. You can identify a infection if your child’s wound has increasing drainage, if a thick, green substance appears, or if there’s any yellow or brown pus, if your child has fever over 100,4ºF (38ºC) for more than four hours, or if you can feel a tender lump in your child’s groin or armpit.

Also, in case there’s Increasing and significant bleeding (called hemorrhage), or a wound that isn’t healing, then it’s time to go to the doctor and get the wound checked. These could be serious complications if the wound hasn’t healed properly.

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