From those first unsteady steps to daredevil acts off the swing set, getting hurt is part of growing up. Thankfully, most childhood injuries are minor and the biggest tears often come from wounded pride. Still, prompt first aid (plus a dose of TLC) can relieve the pain, prevent infection and return your little one to his or her escapades. When a boo-boo needs more than a kiss and a cookie, follow these steps.
Wash a cut or scrape with mild soap and cool water. Rinse thoroughly to clean out any dirt and debris. Apply firm pressure with sterile gauze or a clean cloth to stop any bleeding. Cover the injury with a bandage. Using an antibiotic ointment can help keep the wound moist, speed healing and reduce scarring. Call the doctor if the wound is large or deep, bleeding does not stop after five minutes of direct pressure, any debris remains or the edges of the wound won’t stay closed.
To help reduce swelling and bruising, apply a cold compress for at least 10 minutes and, if needed, give acetaminophen for pain. Bumps on the head are usually more frightening than serious. Because the scalp is rich in blood vessels, a minor bump can result in a rapidly swelling “goose egg” or knot. For head bumps, apply cloth-wrapped ice or a cold pack for 20 minutes. Allow your child to rest as needed, but watch for unusual symptoms or behavior over the next 24 hours. Call the doctor or seek medical attention if your child won’t stop crying; vomits; cannot move the limb or area that was bumped; complains of increasing pain; walks oddly; cannot focus his or her eyes normally; or becomes irritable, sleepy or difficult to wake.
Run cool water (not cold water or ice) over the burn and assess the severity. Superficial first-degree burns will cause redness, pain and swelling. Deeper burns that blister, cause intense redness or swelling or appear white or charred are considered second or third degree and require emergency medical treatment.
For small first-degree burns, continue running cool water over the burn until pain subsides. Do not apply butter, grease or powder. Cover the injury lightly with a gauze bandage. See a doctor for any burn that involves the face, hands or genitals; was caused by a fire, electricity or chemicals; starts to ooze; or covers more than 10 percent of the body.
Your child’s smile may be saved if you act quickly. Pick up a permanent tooth by the crown (not the root) and rinse it immediately with saline solution or milk. Use tap water as a last resort. Gently insert it back into the socket. Cover the tooth with a gauze pad and have your child bite down to keep it in place. If you can’t reinsert the tooth, place it in milk or inside your own mouth between your teeth and cheek. See your dentist right away or go to the hospital.