Kids are constantly falling or bumping into things and getting scratches and scrapes. It’s inevitable. As a parent, it’s irritating to continually give kisses, ice packs, and band-aids to invisible injuries.
But sometimes, our kids manage to really hurt themselves and wind up with a massive bloody scrape or cut. And thanks to Murphy’s Law, it’ll probably happen when you’re away from home camping. So you need to know simple wound care to treat it quickly.
Most scrapes and cuts can easily be treated at the camper, but there are a few red flags you should know.
- There is bright red or squirting blood
- It’s a deep (more than an inch) puncture wound on the head, neck, chest, abdomen, pelvis, or back
- It’s a deep puncture wound on an arm above the elbow or a leg above the knee
- It’s a laceration larger than 2cm long and 2cm deep with jagged edges or won’t close
If any of these are true, cover the wound as best as you can and seek further treatment.
Basic Wound Care for Kids
- Wash your hands
- Stop any active bleeding by applying pressure
- Wash the wound really good with warm water and soap. Your kids will not like this, but they’ll live.
- Only cover the wound if it is likely to come in contact with clothing or dirt.
And that’s it!
I know what you’re thinking.
‘Wait! What about the antibiotic ointment? Aren’t you going to use hydrogen peroxide?’
Short answer. No. Those are actually some common wound care myths.
Wound Care Myths
Always apply antibiotic ointment
I rarely use antibiotic ointment. Treating wounds with antibiotics when they don’t NEED them helps to create those super viruses that we all dread (like MRSA).
Instead, I may use a little vaseline to help protect the skin. I save antibiotic ointment for wounds that start to show signs of infection.
Rinse wounds with hydrogen peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is not necessary to adequately clean a wound. And actually, very little evidence exists to show the effectiveness of hydrogen peroxide on minor lacerations, but plenty of evidence is published on the merits of plain old water—so just use water and soap. Your kids will thank you because peroxide can BURN.
All wounds need a band-aid
Well. This isn’t always true. Band-aids are fantastic, and in fact, there isn’t much a fun character band-aid can’t fix- from your child’s perspective anyway.
Bandages help keep out dirt and prevent kids from picking scabs, but they aren’t always needed. If the cut is in a place where it will get dirty or get irritated by clothing, use a bandage.
Otherwise, leave the wound alone and just keep it clean and dry. Leaving it open will allow the wound to scab quicker and scabs are the body’s built-in band-aids.
What to do next
Once you’ve followed the steps for simple wound care for kids, your job is to keep the wound clean and dry. This will decrease the chances that the wound will get infected. And, until the wound is fully healed, monitor it for signs of infection.
Signs of infection
- Redness around the wound
- Feeling of warmth
- Increased complains of pain
- Foul odor
- Pus or other discharge from the wound
- Yellow crust around the wound
If you catch the signs of infection early on, applying an antibiotic ointment to a clean wound may be enough to treat the infection and prevent it from getting worse. If you’re concerned, always call your pediatrician!
It’s important to understand the basics of wound care, especially if you go camping often. Make sure you have a first aid kit in the camper too!