Clinical Reference Systems: Pediatric Advisor 10.0
Cuts and Scratches - Brief Version
What are cuts and scratches?
Most cuts are not very deep. Cuts that need stitches are
deep and leave the skin edges separated. Also, deep cuts
that are longer than 1/2 inch (1/4 inch if on the face) need
How can I take care of my child?
Apply direct pressure for 10 minutes to stop any bleeding.
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. Cover it with
a Band-Aid or gauze. Wash the wound and change the Band-Aid
every day. Give acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) as
needed to help the pain.
Don't use alcohol or Merthiolate on open wounds. They sting
and damage normal tissue.
Call your child's doctor right away 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 stitches.
- There is any dirt in the wound that you can't get out.
- The cut looks infected (red streaks, draining pus,
Note: Deep cuts must be stitched within 12 hours of the time
of injury. They are much less likely to become infected if
they are stitched within 2 hours.
Call your child's doctor 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 by 10 days.
- You have other questions or concerns.