Small Cuts and Scrapes

Small cuts and scrapes are a common part of childhood. Most cuts and scrapes are minor injuries that can be treated at home. The cut or scrap may bleed or leak a small amount of fluid.

First aid for cuts and scrapes

To take care of cuts and scrapes: 

  • Calm your child and let him or her know you can help.

  • Apply pressure with a clean cloth or bandage for several minutes to stop bleeding. For a lot of bleeding, press on the wound firmly for 5 to 10 minutes with a clean cloth. Do not stop to look at the cut. If the cloth becomes soaked with blood, put a new cloth on top of the old cloth. Do not lift the first cloth.

  • Wash your hands well.

  • Wash the cut area well with soap and water. Do not scrub the wound. Remove any dirt particles from the area. Let the water from the faucet run over it for several minutes. A dirty cut or scrape that is not fully cleaned can cause scarring or infection.

  • Apply an antiseptic lotion, cream, or petroleum jelly.

  • Cover the area with an adhesive bandage or gauze pad if the area is on the hands or feet, or if it is likely to leak onto clothing. Change the dressing often.

  • Check the area each day and keep it clean and dry.

  • Do not blow on the cut or scrape. This can cause germs to grow.

When should I call my child's healthcare provider?

Call your child's provider for cuts and scrapes that are:

  • Bleeding heavily and do not stop bleeding after 5 to 10 minutes of direct pressure

  • Deep or longer than 1/2 inch

  • Close to the eye

  • Large cuts on the face

  • Caused by a puncture wound, or dirty or rusty object

  • Embedded with debris, such as dirt, stones, or gravel

  • Ragged or have separated edges

  • Caused by an animal or human bite

  • Extremely painful

  • Showing signs of infection, such as increased warmth, redness, swelling, or fluid leaking

Also call your child's healthcare provider if:

  • Your child has not had a tetanus shot within the past 5 years, or if you are unsure when your child's last tetanus shot was given

  • You are concerned about the wound or have any questions

Online Medical Reviewer: Daphne Pierce-Smith RN MSN CCRCDonna Freeborn PhD CNM FNPEric Perez MD

Date Last Reviewed: 2/1/2019

© 2000-2019 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.