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August 23, 2019 | Family Medicine
Scraped knees are a childhood rite of passage. No matter how common these minor injuries may be, however, parents are bound to be worried about how to treat them properly.
The good news is that, in most cases, parents can safely treat minor scrapes, cuts and bruises at home. However, to avoid infection or other complications, you must keep an eye on the wound.
Whether your child sustained a scrape from falling off a bike or tripping on the sidewalk, these injuries almost always occur outdoors. This increases the presence of germs and the chance of infection, so be diligent about washing your hands before you begin treatment. Also, keep little hands from touching the open wound.
Once you’ve washed your hands thoroughly, HealthyChildren.org recommends following these steps for treatment:
Change the bandage daily, checking for signs of infection each time. You can also use a liquid skin-type bandage. This product is waterproof, provides a more complete seal and can last for several days. This may speed healing and prevent infection better than an adhesive bandage.
Seeking medical attention under the following conditions:
If you believe your child requires medical attention, contact your family physician or an urgent care facility.
Most skinned knees heal within one to two weeks. However, if you notice any signs of infection, contact your family medicine practitioner.
HealthyChildren.org recommends seeking medical attention if the wound site swells, becomes red or hot, develops discharge or has a foul odor.
If your child develops a fever, this may also indicate the presence of infection.
Depending on the location and severity of your child’s injury, cuts and scrapes may scar during the healing process.
You can minimize the appearance of scarring by keeping the wound moist with petroleum jelly, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). If you keep the area clean, the AAD advises that using antibacterial ointment is not necessary.
Once the wound heals, be sure to protect the area from the sun, as UV exposure can increase scarring for up to six months. Liberally apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF rating of 30 or above and reapply frequently for best results.
If you have questions or concerns about your child’s scraped knee or other injury, contact your family doctor.
“Cut, Scrape, or Bruise.” HealthyChildren.org.
“Cuts, Scrapes & Scar Management: Parent FAQs.” HealthyChildren.org.
“Proper wound care: How to minimize a scar.” American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.