If you have children, you are no stranger to life's little calamities. They come in the form of skinned knees, scraped elbows, and stubbed toes. Here are some guidelines to help you treat those little accidents and know when it is time to seek help.
Wash your hands with soap and water before and after treating an injury. If possible, put on disposable nonlatex gloves.If there is bleeding, place a clean piece of gauze over the wound. Apply firm, but gentle pressure.To cleanse the wound, rinse it under cool water. Use soap and water to clean the wound. Be aware that soap may cause irritation if it gets inside the wound. You do not have to use a stronger cleanser, like rubbing alcohol, to clean the wound.Apply antibiotic cream to the wound before putting on a bandage. This cream may help the healing process and reduce the chance of infection. Change the bandage every day or whenever it gets wet or dirty.Check to make sure the wound is not infected. Tell your doctor if you have increasing pain, swelling, redness, or warmth.Allow the scab to fall off by itself. Scabs that are picked take longer to heal. Plus, it may leave a scar.
If these injuries happen, get medical care right away: An injury that does not stop bleeding after five minutes of steady, firm pressureA deep puncture wound or an injury that appears particularly deep or gapingAn injury that has foreign material embedded in it, such as glass, metal, or woodA bite from an animal or a humanAny injury that shows signs of infection, such as increasing pain, swelling, redness, and warmth
Do not remove larger embedded objects, such as a knife or stick from a puncture wound. If you have any doubt, leave the object alone. They can be safely removed by a doctor.
A child with a chronic condition, such as diabetes, should see a doctor right away if a wound is not healing well.
If you do not have a first aid kit in your home, you can put one together, or purchase from your local American Red Cross or drug store. It may be a good idea to have a first aid kit in your car as well.
Here is what the American Red Cross recommends having in your home's first-aid kit. Absorbent compress dressingsAdhesive bandages in different sizesAdhesive cloth tapeAntibiotic ointment packetsAntiseptic wipesAspirinSpace blanketBreathing barrier for mouth-to-mouth resuscitationInstant cold compressNonlatex disposable glovesHydrocortisone creamScissorsRoller bandage in different sizesSterile gauze pads in different sizesThermometerTriangular bandagesTweezersFirst aid book
Here is what the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends having in your car's first-aid kit: Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofenAntibiotic ointmentHypoallergenic adhesive tapeScissors and tweezersSoap or other agent to clean woundsPetroleum jelly or other lubricantSterile gauze pads and bandages in different sizesMoist towelettesThermometer
First aid classes are a good starting point for parents, teacher, or even babysitters. Class information is located on the American Red Cross and American Heart Association websites.
If you have a smartphone, consider downloading a first aid app from the American Red Cross. Features of the app include first aid instructions, ability to call for emergency medical help, and safety tips. You can even take quizzes and earn badges to increase your first aid knowledge.
Anatomy of a first aid kit. American Red Cross website. Available at: http://www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family/get-kit/anatomy. Accessed October 30, 2013.
First aid: cuts, scrapes and stitches. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/prevention-wellness/staying-healthy/first-aid/first-aid-cuts-scrapes-and-stitches.html. Updated December 2010. Accessed October 30, 2013.
First aid guide. American Academy of Pediatrics Healthy Children website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/prevention-wellness/staying-healthy/first-aid/first-aid-cuts-scrapes-and-stitches.html. Updated August 7, 2013. Accessed October 30, 2013.
Laceration management. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated January 29, 2013. Accessed October 30, 2013.
Markenson D, Ferguson JD, et al. Part 17: first aid: 2010 American Heart Association and American Red Cross Guidelines for First Aid.
Circulation. 2010;122(18 Suppl 3):S934-946.
Last reviewed October 2013 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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