by Dr. Shanthi Thomas
We all, mothers included, know that when there is a medical emergency we should call 911 or perform a CPR if necessary. However, when children are involved the emergencies are rather more mundane, like a scraped knee or a sprained ankle. Let us look at what first aid mothers can do in the face of the very mundane injuries that children may get.
First step is to stop the bleeding by putting pressure on the cut with a clean cloth or a gauze pad. Once the bleeding is stopped, the cut has to be rinsed under cool running water or by using a saline wound wash. The area around the wound can be cleaned with soap, but take care to avoid getting soap into the cut because it may irritate the skin. After that you should remove any debris or dirt left in the wound. For this you can use a pair of tweezers that have been cleaned with alcohol. There is no need to bandage all kinds of wounds, as some heal more quickly if left uncovered. However, if the cut is on a part of the body that may rub against clothes or get dirty, use a bandage to protect it. If you are using a bandage, change it every day or whenever it gets dirty or wet. You can remove the bandage once a solid scab has been formed.
Usually, nose bleeds are not as serious as they tend to look. The bleed can be stopped with a few steps. First of all, lean the head forward so that blood does not flow down into the throat. After that, you should press the nostrils gently together so that the bleeding can be stopped. Hold this position for minimum 5 minutes. If the bleeding has not stopped, squeeze gently for another 10 minutes. If it has not stopped by then, a doctor’s attention is needed. Also, if a lot of blood is flowing very fast or if there is an injury to the nose or face, a doctor should be called or you have to go to the emergency as soon as possible.
If your child has got a splinter stuck in a toe or finger, you will want to get it out as soon as possible. If the splinter is sticking out of the skin, you need to wash the skin around it with soap and water. Take a clean pair of tweezers, grab the end of the splinter with it and pull it out at the same angle that the splinter has gone in. if the splinter is under the skin, then also you wash the skin around the splinter using soap and water. After that you need to clean a needle and a pair of tweezers with alcohol. Using the needle, gently scrape away the skin that is above one end of the splinter until you can see it. Then grab the splinter with the tweezers and pull it out in the same angle that it has gone in.
If your child gets a bite from an animal, first of all, stop the bleeding by holding a towel or gauze against the wound. After cleaning the wound with soap and water, cover it with a clean bandage. A doctor should be called if the bite is from a wild animal, as you might need rabies vaccine or tetanus. If your child is stung by a wasp, bee or other insects, first remove the stinger from the skin if the insect has left it there so that less of the venom gets into the body. Usually it can be scraped out using the dull edge of a knife. Do not squeeze the stinger as it may release more venom into the body. If there is no stinger or if the stinger is out, wash the area with soap and water, then hold a cool washcloth or ice pack to the sting to prevent swelling. To relieve pain, apply calamine lotion or baking soda mixed with water. You can use a cream or spray containing antihistamine or hydrocortisone to prevent itching.
Minor first degree burns and even small second degree burns cam be treated at home. First, place the burned area under running cool water for minimum 5 minutes to prevent swelling. Then you can apply an antibiotic ointment, antiseptic spray or Aloe Vera cream to soothe the area. Then loosely wrap the area with gauze bandage. You can take ibuprofen, acetaminophen or naproxen to relieve the pain. It is important that you do not put butter on a burn or pop blisters that form with a burn, as the skin can be damaged causing an infection.
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