Minor cuts and scrapes are a part of everyday life, especially for young, active children. Typically, an abrasion is a type of wound where the first layer of skin is scraped or rubbed off, and sometimes they require more than just a hug and kiss from mom or dad. These wounds, while superficial, need to be treated properly to fend off infection and heal quickly.
Abrasions can usually be safely treated at home following these four steps:
- Assess the Wound
- For severe cases – if the wound is bleeding heavily and you’re unable to stop the bleeding after 10 minutes of direct pressure – call 911 or head to the nearest emergency department
- Don’t remove an object if it’s penetrated the body; leave it in place and call 911
- If the wound is superficial, proceed to the next step
- Wash your hands with soap and water before touching any open wounds
- Clean the wound with cool to warm water with mild soap. Don’t clean the wound with hydrogen peroxide or alcohol. Using hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol to clean an injury can actually harm the tissue and delay healing
- Gently remove any dirt, rocks or debris and try not to scrub the wound
- Place sterile gauze or a clean towel over the wound and apply direct pressure with your palm
- If the gauze soaks through, keep it in place and add more on top
- Continue pressure for a minute or two after the bleeding stops
- Apply a thin layer of antibacterial ointment such as Neosporin or Bacitracin to the wound
- If the wound is minor, you can leave it open to the air until healed
- If the wound is in a place like the hands or feet, it will be more likely to get dirty and can be covered with a simple bandage
- Change the dressing every day; change it more frequently if it gets dirty
If you do start to notice redness, drainage (puss), or increasing pain to the area, seek medical attention right away, as these are signs of infection.
When the Wound Starts to Heal
Small cuts and scrapes will form a scab within a few days. The scab helps protect the wound from dirt and germs while new skin grows. Once a scab has formed, you may not need to use a bandage anymore. Although a healing wound or scab will itch, make sure kids don’t scratch or pick at them. The scab will fall off on its own without your help, revealing the new, healthy skin underneath.