Cuts, Sprains, and Scrapes: The Lowdown on First Aid

Even if you’re the kind of parent who always keeps an eagle eye on your kid – accidents can happen. As a matter of fact, it seems like childhood is full of scrapes, sprains, and bruises.  Whether the accident is mild or serious, be prepared. Make sure you have your first aid kit nicely stocked with all the essentials. Then read on to make sure you know how to use them!

Cuts and Scrapes

The ubiquitous childhood “boo-boo” can fortunately be taken care of at home:

  • Wash the wound gently with soap and water, clearing away any dirt there might be in and around the cut
  • Apply a Neosporin cream with the end of a Q-tip (if your child has allergies to antibiotics, however, check with your doctor to make sure what to use)
  • For just a scrape, usually Neosporin on its own is sufficient. Cuts generally require some form of wound dressing. Smaller wounds can be covered with Band-Aids, but for larger wounds, use a nonstick pad, wrap it in gauze, and secure with tape.
  • Change the bandage once a day until the wound closes.  Assess the wound daily for signs of infection including redness, swelling, increased pain, or a smelly discharge.  In case of infection, call your doctor for additional treatment with antibiotics.


One of the most vulnerable body parts when it comes to sprains is, of course, the ankle – and they’re very inconvenient to have out of commission!  To help your child get over a sprain, remember the acronym RICE, which stands for:

  • Rest. Your child may not like it – especially if they are an active or sporty type – but keeping weight off is essential for healing. If you are dealing with a restless, older child, explain that getting up too soon can damage the ankle further and delay recovery times.  Whatever the age, give them plenty of distractions while they are recovering to keep them from getting bored like games, puzzles, books, and maybe even a bit more TV than you usually allow!
  • Ice. Use gel-filled cold compresses that can be frozen and reused as often as needed.  Place the frozen gel pack over the affected area (through the clothing rather than on the bare skin) for 15-20 minutes at a time.  Ice will help to reduce inflammation and pain at the site of the sprain and give your child some fast relief.
  • Compression. Compression will also help to reduce swelling at the site and relieve your child’s discomfort as well.  Use an Ace wrap around the foot and ankle in a figure-8 pattern, leaving a little space for the heel to protrude from the dressing. Wrap snugly but not too tightly. If your child complains that the wrap is painful, unwrap it and then rewrap more loosely. You don’t want to cut off circulation.
  • Elevation. Elevation will reduce swelling and inflammation, and speed along the recovery process.  When your child is seated, use a footrest, chair, or coffee table to keep the ankle raised.  In bed, make sure they have several pillows under them to keep that leg where it needs to be.


Even when you warn your kids to be careful, it’s easy for them to get too close to a hot pan or stay out in the sun too long.  Even minor burns can be very painful because of the sensitivity of the upper, nerve-rich layers of the skin. Fortunately, most burns can be taken care of at home.  (Second- and third-degree burn require immediate, professional medical attention).

  • Soak the affected area in cool (but not cold) water to help with immediate discomfort and pain. If your child is sunburned, have them take a cool oatmeal bath.  The cool water will bring down redness and inflammation – and the oatmeal also soothes burned skin.
  • Use fresh aloe or commercial aloe gel to speed up the healing process and wrap the area lightly in gauze.
  • You can use the aloe several times a day if you wish and be sure to keep a close eye on the burn area for secondary infection.  As with cuts, if you noticed any increase in redness or swelling, a foul-smelling discharge or if your child complains of increased pain, you should go in to see your doctor. 

What are some of your go-to first aid essentials? Share your tips with us in the comments below!

Tags : health   safety   first aid   

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