Cuts and Abrasions

By Dr Evelyn Lewin

Cuts and Abrasions. A cut (or laceration) is when skin breaks, usually in response to injury. Cuts may be small or large, shallow or deep, and have neat or jagged edges. Certain areas of the body are more vascular (such as the scalp), meaning cuts there bleed more.


Cuts and Abrasions. Cuts are painful. Most cuts bleed for approximately five minutes. Then, the blood clots, forming a scab. Scabs eventually fall off.  Once cuts have healed, they may leave a scar. A scar is dead tissue that is usually lighter in colour than normal skin.


Small/shallow cuts:  Small/shallow cuts may not need medical treatment and may heal on their own. Wash the wound with water. Then, place sterile adhesive tape over the cut. Once a scab forms, allow it to naturally fall off. Advise your child against picking it off. When cuts heal they may be itchy. Discourage your child from scratching. Check the wound daily. If it becomes red, swollen, increasingly sore or pus is forming, it may be infected and you should see your doctor.

Larger wounds: Children with deep wounds need to see a doctor as such wounds may affect nerves or tendons. Large/deep cuts may need suturing (stitches). These can be done by your GP. Your doctor will inject local anaesthetic to numb the area. Once numb, the doctor will then insert as many stitches as needed. Some cuts can be treated with special medical glue instead. If a child has a cut on their face or neck, your doctor may advise you to go to hospital for treatment to possibly improve the cosmetic outcome. This is especially needed for cuts that extend from the lip across to the normal skin (cross the vermillion border).

Bleeding wounds: If a cut is bleeding, wrap it in a bandage and apply firm pressure for five minutes. If blood soaks through the bandage, apply another one on top and continue to apply pressure. Try to raise the affected body part up, to slow the flow of blood to that area. If the cut continues to bleed after five minutes, or if it starts bleeding again after it had stopped, seek medical attention. If bleeding is excessive or you are concerned, call an ambulance.

Reviewed by Dr Evelyn Lewin 25 February 2015 references
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This document has been developed and peer reviewed by a KIDS HEALTH Advisory Board Representative and is based on expert opinion and the available published literature at the time of review. Information contained in this document is not intended to replace medical advice and any questions regarding a medical diagnosis or treatment should be directed to a medical practitioner.

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