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Small Cuts and Scrapes

Small cuts and scrapes are a common part of childhood. Most cuts and scrapes are minor injuries that can be treated at home. The cut or scrape may bleed or leak a small amount of fluid.

First aid for cuts and scrapes

To take care of cuts and scrapes: 

  • Calm your child and let them know you can help.

  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with clean, running water and soap before caring for the cut or scrape.
  • Apply pressure with a clean cloth or bandage for several minutes to stop bleeding. For a lot of bleeding, press on the wound firmly for 10 to 15 minutes with a clean cloth. Don't stop to look at the cut. If the cloth becomes soaked with blood, put a new cloth on top of the old cloth. Don't lift the first cloth. If the bleeding doesn't stop after this time, call your healthcare provider.

  • Wash the cut area well with soap and water. Don't scrub the wound. Remove any dirt particles from the area. Let the water from the faucet run over it for several minutes. A dirty cut or scrape that is not fully cleaned can cause scarring or infection.

  • Apply an antiseptic lotion or cream, or petroleum jelly.

  • Cover the area with an adhesive bandage or gauze pad if the area is on the hands or feet, or if it's likely to leak onto clothing. Change the dressing often.

  • Check the area each day and keep it clean and dry.

  • Don't blow on the cut or scrape. This can cause germs to grow.

When should I call my child's healthcare provider?

Call your child's healthcare provider for cuts and scrapes that are:

  • Bleeding heavily and don't stop bleeding after 10 to 15 minutes of direct pressure

  • Deep or longer than 1/2 inch

  • Close to the eye

  • Large and on the face

  • Caused by a puncture wound, or dirty or rusty object

  • Embedded with debris, such as dirt, stones, or gravel

  • Ragged or have separated edges

  • Caused by an animal or human bite

  • Extremely painful

  • Showing signs of infection, such as increased warmth, redness, swelling, or fluid leaking

Also call your child's healthcare provider if:

  • Your child has not had a tetanus shot within the past 5 years, or if you are unsure when your child's last tetanus shot was given

  • You are concerned about the wound or have any questions