Should children get bandages or stitches?

- Most kids are bursting at the seams to get outdoors this time of year. But, as parents know, all of that extra time riding bikes and skateboards means more chances for bruises and skinned-knees.

Sometimes it's hard to tell what can be treated at home, and when it's time to head to the hospital. Dr. Purva Grover of Cleveland Clinic Children's says location is everything.

"Where is this laceration? If it's anywhere near one of the more vital organs -like the eyes; the genitalia area; or your face - I would say that you probably want to get it looked at sooner rather than later, simply because these areas are sometimes very hard to examine, and they bleed," she says.

Lacerations on the scalp, face and mouth are likely to bleed the most, which can be alarming but often times the bleeding is scarier than the injury itself. But there are times when a cut needs more than a kiss and a bandage.

"If a wound is gaping in nature, which means that you - if you put it together, it doesn't quite come together - then, in all likelihood, it is something which will need an extra level of attention," says Dr. Grover.

Minor cuts and scrapes should be washed thoroughly with clean water.

A bandage should be used in the early stages to stop bleeding and keep the area from becoming infected. But once the wound starts to heal, it's best to remove the bandage and leave the area exposed. The trick, of course, is getting the bandage off without any drama.

"It sounds cruel, but the easiest is the quickest, and the quickest is a loud, 'ouch!' and then it's off," Dr. Grover suggests.

She says parents can use an antibiotic cream on minor cuts and scrapes to keep them from getting infected. She adds that if a cut doesn't appear to be healing after a few days or if it looks like there are scratch marks going up and down the wound, this is an indication of a serious infection that might need medical attention right away.


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