Clinical Reference Systems: Pediatric Advisor 10.0
Cuts and Scratches
Cuts are caused by sharp objects. Most cuts are superficial
and extend only partially through the skin. Deep cuts that
are longer than 1/2 inch (1/4 inch if on the face) and leave
the skin edges separated, need stitches (sutures).
- Apply direct pressure for 10 minutes to stop any
- Wash the wound with soap and water for 5 minutes.
- Cut off any pieces of loose skin using small scissors
(for torn skin with scrapes).
- Apply an antibiotic ointment and cover it with a
Band-Aid or gauze. Wash the wound and change the
Band-Aid or gauze daily.
- Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen as needed for pain
- Common mistakes in treating cuts and scratches
- Don't use alcohol or Merthiolate on open wounds.
They sting and damage normal tissue.
- Don't kiss an open wound because the wound will
become contaminated by the many germs in a person's
- Let the scab fall off by itself; picking it off may
cause a scar.
CALL YOUR CHILD'S PHYSICIAN IMMEDIATELY IF:
- Bleeding doesn't stop after you have applied pressure
directly to the area of the cut for 10 minutes.
- The skin is split open and might need sutures.
- There is any dirt in the wound that you can't get out.
- The cut looks infected (for example, pus, redness, red
Note: Lacerations (deep cuts) must be sutured within
12 hours of the time of injury, and they are much less
likely to become infected if they are sutured within
CALL YOUR CHILD'S PHYSICIAN DURING OFFICE HOURS IF:
- Your child hasn't had a tetanus booster in more than
10 years (5 years if the cut is dirty).
- The wound doesn't heal within 10 days.
- You have other questions or concerns.