Small Cuts and Scrapes

Small cuts and scrapes are often viewed as part of childhood and growing up. The skin opening may bleed or drain a small amount of fluid but most cuts and scrapes are minor injuries that can be treated at home.

Patients can be seen by Texas Children's experts in Emergency Center.

First aid for cuts and scrapes:

  • Calm your child and let him know that you can help.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Apply pressure with a clean cloth or bandage for several minutes to stop the bleeding.Wash the injured area well with soap and water, but avoid scrubbing the wound vigorously. Remove any dirt particles from the area and let the water from the faucet run over it for several minutes. A dirty cut or scrape that is not thoroughly cleaned can lead to infection and scarring.
  • Pat excess water from the injured area and allow it to dry. Do not scrub or dry vigorously as this may cause more bleeding.
  • Apply an antiseptic lotion or cream such as Neosporin™.
  • Cover the injured area with an adhesive bandage or gauze pad if it is located somewhere likely to be soiled, like on the hands or feet, or if it is likely to drain onto clothing. Change the dressing daily or more often if it becomes soiled.
  • Check the area each day and keep it clean and dry.
  • Once it is healed, apply an emollient and sunscreen (sun protection factor, or SPF of at least 15 or greater) daily to help prevent scarring.

When should I call my child's doctor?

Specific treatment for cuts and scrapes that require more than minor treatment at home will be determined by your child's doctor. In general, call your child's doctor for cuts and scrapes that are:

  • Bleeding heavily and do not stop bleeding after 5 to 10 minutes of continuous, direct pressure. If the bleeding is profuse, hold pressure for 5 to 10 minutes without stopping to look at the cut. If the cloth becomes soaked with blood, put a new cloth on top of the old one. Do not lift the original cloth.
  • Deep or longer than 1/2 inch.
  • Located close to the eye.
  • Large and on the face or scalp.
  • Caused by a puncture wound, or a dirty or rusted object.
  • Embedded with debris or a foreign material, such as dirt, gravel, or glass.
  • Ragged or with separated edges.
  • Caused by an animal or human bite.
  • Suspicious for an associated broken or injured bone or a head injury.
  • Showing signs of infection, such as increased warmth, redness, swelling, or drainage of pus.

Also call your child's doctor if:

  • Your child has not completed his childhood vaccinations, has not had a tetanus vaccination 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.