SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center
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First Aid: Cuts

Many kids get a cut from falls or using sharp objects like scissors. Some cuts can be safely treated at home. Large, gaping, and deeper cuts — or any wounds that won't stop bleeding — need medical treatment.

What to Do

If the cut is severe and you can't get your child to a hospital right away or must wait for an ambulance, begin this treatment:

  • Rinse the cut or wound with water and apply pressure with sterile gauze, a bandage, or a clean cloth.
  • If blood soaks through the bandage, place another bandage over the first and keep applying pressure.
  • Raise the injured body part to slow bleeding.
  • When bleeding stops, cover the wound with a new, clean bandage.
  • Do not apply a tourniquet.

Seek Medical Care

If:

  • the cut is deep or its edges are widely separated
  • the cut continues to ooze and bleed even after applying pressure
  • the injury was caused by an animal or human bite, burn, electrical injury, or puncture wound (e.g., a nail)

Call 911 Right Away

If Your Child:

  • has a body part, such as a fingertip, that is cut off. Put the part that was cut off in a sealed plastic bag right away. Dunk the bag in a container with ice water.
  • has a cut and the blood is spurting out and difficult to control
  • is bleeding so much that bandages are becoming soaked with blood

Think Prevention!

  • Childproof so that infants and toddlers are less likely to fall or become injured on table corners, sharp objects, or doors that may slam shut.
  • Be sure your kids wear shoes when playing outside.
  • Watch teens when they are cutting with sharp knives.

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: April 2014