The glass slips from your hands and breaks when it hits the floor. You take off to find your mom and you step on a sliver of glass. Ouch! Now you're bleeding.
Cuts, scratches, and abrasions are a part of growing up. Let's find out more about them:
After getting a cut, scratch, or abrasion, your skin may start bleeding. This happens because the injury breaks or tears the tiny blood vessels, which are right under the skin's surface. Your body wants to stop the bleeding so the platelets (say: PLAYT-litz) in your blood come to the rescue.
At the site of a wound (say: WOOND), which is another word for injury, platelets stick together, like glue. This is called clotting, which works like a plug to keep blood and other fluids from leaking out. A scab, a hardened and dried clot, forms a crust over the wound. This protects the area so the skin cells underneath can have time to heal.
Underneath the scab, new skin cells multiply to repair the wound. Damaged blood vessels are repaired, and infection-fighting white blood cells attack any germs that may have gotten into the wound. You can't see it under the scab, but a new layer of skin is forming. And when the new skin is ready, the scab falls off.
A scab usually falls off within a week or two. If you pick at a scab, the new skin underneath can be ripped and the wound will take longer to heal and may leave a scar. So try not to pick at scabs.
Stop any bleeding by pressing a clean, soft cloth against the wound. If the wound isn't very bad, the bleeding should stop in a few minutes. Then you'll want to clean the wound, using warm water and a gentle soap.
You might want to get your mom, dad, or another adult to help you get cleaned up, especially if the water doesn't get all the dirt or gravel out of the wound. A soft, damp cloth can help remove these bits.
Most small cuts, scrapes, or abrasions will heal well without any special care. For extra protection, your parent might use an antibacterial (say: an-tye-bak-TEER-ee-ul) ointment or a bandage. The ointment will kill germs and a bandage will keep your wound from getting irritated and prevent germs from getting inside. If you use a bandage, it should be changed daily and when it gets wet or dirty.
If a wound is very long or deep or if its edges are far apart, then you may need stitches. The doctor will use some type of anesthetic (say: an-iss-THET-ik) on your skin to numb it (numb means you won't be able to feel anything there for a while). This numbing medicine might be applied directly or through a shot.
Then the doctor will suture (say: SOO-chur), or sew, the edges of the cut together with a small needle and special thread.
For more minor cuts, the doctor might use a special kind of glue to close your cut instead of stitches. This glue holds the sides of the cut together so the skin can begin to heal. The glue will dissolve over time.
If you do get stitches, after the wound heals (in about a week) you will need to go back to the doctor to get those stitches taken out. The doctor will just snip the thread with scissors and gently pull out the threads. It feels funny but usually doesn't hurt. Sometimes the doctor may use stitches that dissolve on their own over time and don't need to be removed.
Sometimes, a small scar forms after stitches are removed. If you don't get the proper care for a serious cut, a more noticeable scar may form.
It's a good idea to always tell an adult if you get injured. You'll especially want to tell a parent or another adult if you cut yourself on something dirty or rusty, if you are bleeding, or if you get bitten or scratched (by an animal or a person!).
Bites and scratches may need special care because germs from the animal or person might have gotten into the wound. The doctor might prescribe an antibiotic (say: an-tye-bye-AH-tik) medicine to prevent infection. And if you were bitten or scratched by an animal, your mom or dad will need to make sure the animal didn't have rabies, a dangerous virus.
Certain cuts or bites could develop into tetanus (say: TET-uh-niss), another serious illness. Your parent will need to check your medical records and be sure that you have had a tetanus shot recently.
Sometimes, a cut, scratch, or abrasion starts out as no big deal, but then gets infected. An infection (say: in-FEK-shun) happens when there are too many germs for your body's white blood cells and immune system to handle.
Infected wounds may hurt, look red and swollen, feel warm to touch, or contain pus, which is a yellowish or greenish thick liquid. Infected wounds also can cause a fever. If your cut, scratch, or abrasion looks infected, tell your parent. You may need to see a doctor for antibiotics to get rid of the infection.
Luckily, most cuts, scratches, and abrasions will go away on their own, thanks to your body's amazing ability to heal itself.
Reviewed by: Yamini Durani, MD
Date reviewed: January 2015
|National Safety Council The National Safety Council offers information on first aid, CPR, environmental health, and safety.|
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|The Story on Scars You may be young, but you probably already have a scar or two. But why did you get them? How can you prevent them? Find out in this article written just for kids!|
|Splinters Don't let a splinter ruin a perfectly good day. Find out what to do if you get one.|
|Cellulitis Cellulitis is a serious infection that can be mistaken for a bruise, scrape, or insect bite. Find out more in this article for kids.|
|Taking Care of Your Skin What does your skin ask for in return for all the wonderful things it does? Just a little care and consideration, so learn more about taking care of your skin by reading our article for kids.|
|How Stitches Help Kids Heal Most kids need stitches at one time or another to help a cut heal properly. Read this article to learn all about stitches and what they do.|
|What's a Scab? Just about everyone has had one of these on their knee. Find out how scabs help you heal.|
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