Treating Cuts and Bleeding in Children

Medically Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on November 04, 2021

Call 911 if:

  • Your child is bleeding heavily.
  • The wound is deep.
  • The edges of the wound are gaping.
  • The wound is spurting blood.
  • You can't stop the bleeding after 10 minutes of direct pressure.
  • An object has punctured the skin and is still in the body.
  • The cut involves the eye or the cartilage of the nose or ear.

Cuts and scrapes are common in young children. Usually, parents can treat them at home.

Call the Doctor If:

  • The cut is on your child's face.
  • The cut is larger than a half inch, jagged, has dirt in it, isn't healing well, or seems infected.

1. Examine the Injury

  • Do not remove an object that has penetrated the body. Put pressure on the wound and call 911.

2. Clean the Wound

  • Wash your hands.
  • Clean the wound with lots of cool water. Make sure all dirt and debris are removed.
  • Clean the area around the wound with mild soap and water.

3. Stop the Bleeding

  • Cover the wound with gauze or a clean towel and press down with your palm.
  • If the gauze soaks through, don't remove it. Put another layer of gauze on top.
  • Keep up the pressure for a few minutes after the bleeding stops.
  • Try to elevate the area where the wound is, such as the leg or arm.

4. Treat the Wound

  • Apply an antibacterial ointment to the area.
  • If the wound is minor and unlikely to get dirty, let it heal in the open air.
  • If the wound is likely to get dirty because it's on the hands or feet, put on a bandage during the day, and allow it to air dry without the bandage at night. Monitor for signs of infection such as redness or drainage.

Show Sources

SOURCES: "First Aid: Cuts, Scrapes, and Stitches." "Acute Bleeding" and "Skin Injury."

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