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Cuts in Children: Care Instructions


A cut can happen anywhere on your child's body.

Stitches, staples, skin adhesives, or pieces of tape called Steri-Strips are sometimes used to keep the edges of a cut together and help it heal. Steri-Strips can be used by themselves or with stitches or staples.

Sometimes cuts are left open.

If the cut went deep and through the skin, the doctor may have closed the cut in two layers. A deeper layer of stitches brings the deep part of the cut together. These stitches will dissolve and don't need to be removed. The upper layer closure, which could be stitches, staples, Steri-Strips, or adhesive, is what you see on the cut.

A cut is often covered by a bandage.

The doctor has checked your child carefully, but problems can develop later. If you notice any problems or new symptoms, get medical treatment right away.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

If a cut is open or closed

  • Prop up the sore area on a pillow anytime your child sits or lies down during the next 3 days. Try to keep it above the level of your child's heart. This will help reduce swelling.
  • Keep the cut dry for the first 24 to 48 hours. After this, your child can shower if your doctor okays it. Pat the cut dry.
  • Don't let your child soak the cut, such as in a bathtub or kiddie pool. Your doctor will tell you when it's safe to get the cut wet.
  • If your doctor told you how to care for your child's cut, follow your doctor's instructions. If you did not get instructions, follow this general advice:
    • After the first 24 to 48 hours, wash the cut with clean water 2 times a day. Don't use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol, which can slow healing.
    • You may cover your child's cut with a thin layer of petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline, and a non-stick bandage.
    • Apply more petroleum jelly and replace the bandage as needed.
  • Help your child avoid any activity that could cause the cut to reopen.
  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If the doctor gave your child prescription medicine for pain, give it as prescribed.
    • If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine.

If the cut is closed with stitches, staples, or Steri-Strips

  • Follow the above instructions for open or closed cuts.
  • Do not remove the stitches or staples on your own. Your doctor will tell you when to come back to have the stitches or staples removed.
  • Leave Steri-Strips on until they fall off.

If the cut is closed with a skin adhesive

  • Follow the above instructions for open or closed cuts.
  • Leave the skin adhesive on your child's skin until it falls off on its own. This may take 5 to 10 days.
  • Do not let your child scratch, rub, or pick at the adhesive.
  • Do not put the sticky part of a bandage directly on the adhesive.
  • Do not put any kind of ointment, cream, or lotion over the area. This can make the adhesive fall off too soon. Do not use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol, which can slow healing.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has new pain, or the pain gets worse.
  • The skin near the cut is cold or pale or changes colour.
  • Your child has tingling, weakness, or numbness near the cut.
  • The cut starts to bleed, and blood soaks through the bandage. Oozing small amounts of blood is normal.
  • Your child has trouble moving the area near the cut.
  • Your child has symptoms of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth or redness near the cut.
    • Red streaks leading from the cut.
    • Pus draining from the cut.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • The cut reopens.
  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.