Deeper cuts that are gaping open, continuing to bleed, or are on a delicate area of skin like over joints or on the face should always be seen as soon as possible by a doctor. If your pediatrician isn’t available, visit one of the pediatric emergency specialists at PM Pediatrics, which provides urgent care just for kids from birth through college. Once a laceration is older than about 12 to 18 hours — even if it ordinarily would need stitches — it’s too late. This is especially crucial on the face where scarring is important (as we all want our kids to be as blemish-free for life as possible!). One of the goals of stitches is to make a nice cosmetic wound closure so don’t delay in getting a facial laceration seen! Each PM Pediatrics office is open 365-days a year, until midnight.
Once the wound is glued or stitched and dressed, it’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions closely. Any opening in the skin is at risk for infection, so it’s crucial to understand these signs. Fever or pus drainage (thick yellow or white fluid) from the wound is worrisome, as are increasing pain and red streaks around the wound. Should you see any of these signs, have the cut looked at promptly. Sometimes the fix can be quick and simple, like reopening the wound slightly to help drainage (better than the whole thing opening up!), or adding antibiotics early in the course of infection to save headaches later on. There may be a little debate among healthcare providers on whether or not wounds should be covered, but I’m a big fan of covering them with a dressing for the first 24 hours and then having them open to the air to help dry out and heal faster. A stitched wound should be dry on day one and then washed gently with soapy water twice a day, thereafter. Make sure you’re clear on exactly when the stitches should come out, or if they are absorbable and don’t require removal.
My final tip is to cover all cuts year-round with high-SPF sunscreen for at least one year post-injury to help prevent further scarring. Sun damage to skin is a well-known fact, but sun damage to already damaged skin is even worse. Be careful and have a gorgeous, healthy child!
Now I feel better. Maybe just going through the steps of what I already know and practice will help me be less anxious when my kid, Luke, barrels down the slide at the playground, face-first. I hope it does the same for you! Let me know if you have any good tips for managing cuts and scrapes, let’s learn from each other.
Christina Johns, MD, is an experienced pediatric emergency physician and children’s medical expert at PM Pediatrics, a specialized pediatric urgent care provider with offices in New York, New Jersey and Maryland. The go-to medical expert parents trust, Dr. Johns brings the breadth and expertise of the cutting-edge urgent care practice to educate the community at large. For the PM Pediatrics location nearest you, visit PMPediatrics.com.
1989 Rte. 52
Hopewell Junction, NY 12533
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