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How to Treat Common Childhood Injuries: From Scrapes to Broken Bones

Childhood is a time of exploration, play, and inevitable bumps and bruises. As parents, caregivers, or even small business owners who cater to families, it’s important to be prepared for the most common childhood injuries. Knowing how to handle these situations can make all the difference in preventing further harm and easing a child’s discomfort.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover the basics of treating common childhood injuries, from scrapes and cuts to broken bones. For a more in-depth understanding and hands-on training, consider enrolling in a paediatric first aid course to ensure you’re well-equipped to handle any emergency.

How Common Are Childhood Injuries?

Simple injuries, such as cuts, scrapes, and bruises, are quite common among children. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), unintentional injuries account for almost 40% of all child deaths globally, with a significant portion of these injuries being non-fatal and resulting in temporary or permanent disabilities. As children are naturally curious and have a tendency to explore their surroundings, they often experience minor injuries as they navigate the world around them.

In the United States alone, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that more than 12 million children and adolescents visit emergency departments for unintentional injuries each year. These injuries can result from falls, sports, playground activities, and more.

While most simple injuries are not life-threatening and can be treated with basic first aid, it is crucial for parents, caregivers, and anyone interacting with children to be knowledgeable about treating common injuries and to take preventive measures to ensure a safer environment for children.

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Scrapes and Cuts

Scrapes and cuts are a normal part of growing up, and it’s important to know how to treat them properly to prevent infection and promote healing.

  • Clean the wound: Gently clean the affected area with soap and water to remove dirt and debris. Avoid using alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, as these can be too harsh on the skin and delay healing.
  • Apply antibiotic ointment: After cleaning the wound, apply a thin layer of antibiotic ointment to help prevent infection.
  • Cover the wound: Use a bandage or sterile dressing to cover the scrape or cut. This will help protect the wound from bacteria and debris.
  • Change the dressing: Replace the bandage daily or whenever it becomes wet or dirty.
  • Watch for signs of infection: If you notice increased redness, swelling, or pus around the wound, contact your healthcare provider immediately.

Bruises

Bruises occur when blood vessels beneath the skin break due to an impact or injury. While most bruises heal on their own, you can help reduce pain and swelling by following these steps:

  • Appy a cold compress: As soon as possible after the injury, apply a cold pack or ice wrapped in a cloth to the bruised area for 10-20 minutes. Repeat this process several times a day for the first 48 hours.
  • Elevate the injured area: If possible, raise the bruised body part above the level of the heart to reduce blood flow and minimise swelling.
  • Use over-the-counter pain relievers: If needed, give your child age-appropriate over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to alleviate discomfort.
  • Be patient: Bruises can take one to three weeks to heal, depending on the severity. Keep an eye on the bruise and consult your healthcare provider if it doesn’t begin to fade after a week.

Sprains and Strains

Sprains and strains are common injuries in active children, affecting muscles, tendons, or ligaments. To treat these injuries, follow the RICE method:

  • Rest: Encourage your child to rest and avoid putting weight on the injured area.
  • Ice: Apply ice to the injury for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day, for the first 48 hours.
  • Compression: Use an elastic bandage to apply gentle pressure on the injured area, helping to reduce swelling.
  • Elevation: Keep the injured body part elevated above the level of the heart to minimise swelling.
  • If your child is still in pain after a few days, consult your healthcare provider for further evaluation and treatment.

Broken Bones

While not as common as other childhood injuries, broken bones can still occur and require immediate medical attention. Here’s what to do if you suspect a fracture:

  • Immobilise the injured area: Keep the child as still as possible and avoid moving the suspected broken bone. Use a splint or a makeshift immobiliser (such as a rolled-up magazine) to support the injured area.
  • Apply ice: Wrap a cold pack or ice in a cloth and apply it to the injury for 20 minutes at a time to help reduce swelling and alleviate pain. Do not apply ice directly to the skin.
  • Seek medical attention: Take your child to a healthcare provider or the nearest emergency room as soon as possible. Do not attempt to realign or move the broken bone on your own.
  • Follow medical advice: Once the broken bone has been diagnosed and treated, follow the healthcare provider’s instructions for care and rehabilitation.

Choking

  • Choking is a frightening experience for both children and adults. Knowing how to respond quickly and effectively can save a child’s life.
  • Assess the situation: If a child is coughing forcefully, encourage them to continue coughing, as this may help dislodge the object. If the child is unable to cough, breathe, or make any noise, they may be experiencing a severe airway obstruction.
  • Perform back blows: For a child over one year of age, stand behind them and deliver up to five sharp blows between the shoulder blades with the heel of your hand.
  • Perform abdominal thrusts: If back blows don’t work, stand behind the child, place your arms around their waist, and perform up to five abdominal thrusts (also known as the Heimlich manoeuvre).
  • Alternate between back blows and abdominal thrusts: Continue alternating between these methods until the object is dislodged or the child begins to breathe. If the child loses consciousness, call emergency services and begin CPR.
    For a more detailed explanation of choking first aid, as well as training in CPR and other life-saving skills, consider enrolling in a paediatric first aid course.

Conclusion

Being prepared to handle common childhood injuries can help you feel more confident and capable as a parent, caregiver, or business owner who interacts with children. From scrapes and bruises to more serious injuries like broken bones and choking, knowing the basics of first aid can make all the difference in an emergency situation. To further enhance your skills and knowledge, consider taking a paediatric first aid course to ensure you’re well-equipped to handle any situation that may arise.

In addition to first aid knowledge, it’s important to create a safe environment for children and minimise the risk of injury.

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