Treating Minor Injuries in Children
Sports and other physical activities
can help kids stay healthy and physically fit, but they can also sometimes result in
injuries. Scrapes and sprains are a fact of life for most children. So it’s good to know
what to do when they occur.
Scrapes and cuts
When a child gets a scrape or cut,
the flow of blood can make even a minor cut look like an emergency. Minor injuries
should stop bleeding after a few minutes. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
advises the following treatment plan:
Apply direct pressure for 5 to 10 minutes to stop any bleeding.
Wash the wound with plain water and look for any debris.
Put an antibiotic ointment on the wound. Cover the wound with an adhesive bandage or other dressing that is airtight and watertight.
When to call your child's healthcare provider
Call your child's healthcare provider if your child gets worse in any way, or if the wound:
Strains and sprains
A strain is when a muscle has stretched too far and partly tears. It can look
bruised. Pain, soreness, and swelling can develop several hours after it happens.
A sprain is a more serious injury that may include the tearing of ligaments. In a
mild sprain, the ligament is overstretched. More severe sprains can cause partial or
full tearing of the ligament.
With a sprain, the injured area usually swells right away. Your child may be in a lot of pain. Sprains can take weeks to heal and can feel like a broken bone.
Because children are more likely to
break a bone than have a sprain, it is important to check with your child's healthcare
provider if your child has a lot of pain, especially if it is over an area of bone.
Children are still growing. Breaks that happen in the parts of bones where growth starts
need to be watched closely.
According to the AAP, the signs and
symptoms of sprains in young children can be like those for a fracture. They can
Swelling around the joint
Inability to walk, bear weight, or use the joint
If your child has a sprain or
strain, have him or her stop putting any weight on the injured area right away. Follow
the RICE rule:
Rest the injured part
Put Ice or cold compresses on the area several times a day to reduce swelling
Compress the area with a splint or bandage to prevent
Elevate the injured part so that it’s above the
Relieving the pain
When treating injuries from sports
and other activities, pain medicine can be helpful in soothing your child and reducing
inflammation. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are pain medicines that are available over the
counter. They are generally safe to use with few side effects when given in the correct
Both types of pain medicine come in
liquid drops or chewable tablets that children can take easily. Ibuprofen should not be
given to children ages 6 months or younger. Read the directions on the package. Don't
give more than the dose or give doses too close together. Be careful when giving these
medicines along with other types of medicines.
Don't give your child aspirin unless your child's healthcare provider tells you to. Aspirin may cause a serious condition called Reye syndrome.
For scrapes and cuts, you can use
an antibiotic ointment that has a mild ingredient to relieve pain.
Small injuries, cuts, and bruises
are bound to happen to all kids. Although these injuries may be a part of growing up,
you can take care to help prevent more serious mishaps. To avoid injuries, the AAP
advises that a child:
Wear correct and properly
fitted protective equipment. These include neck, shoulder, elbow, chest, knee, and
shin pads. They also include helmets, mouthpieces, faceguards, protective cups,
Condition and strengthen muscles before play.
Stretch before and after play to increase flexibility.
Have rest periods during play
to prevent illness related to the heart and reduce injury.
Stop the activity if injury or pain occurs.
Drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after exercise or play.
Postpone or stop activities that are high intensity during periods of high heat or humidity.
Wear clothing that is right for the weather.
It's also a good idea to keep a first aid kit on hand, just in case an accident occurs.
More serious injuries
Call your child's healthcare
provider, or get medical care right away for any of the following:
A wound that does not stop bleeding after several minutes of pressure
A cut that has ragged edges,
has skin edges that are far apart, or is long or deep
Redness, bruising, pus, or
swelling that gets worse
The injured area feels numb
A popping sound occurs during the injury. This can mean completely torn ligaments.
An injured body part that is oddly bent or misshapen
Any major injury of the head
Pain that gets worse or