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Cuts and Scrapes: What You Can Treat and When You Need a Doctor

If you have children, you are no stranger to life's little calamities. They come in the form of skinned knees, scraped elbows, and stubbed toes. Here are some guidelines to help you treat those little accidents and know when it is time to seek help.

Steps to Treat Minor Wounds

When to See the Doctor

If these injuries happen, get medical care right away:

Do not remove larger embedded objects, such as a knife or stick from a puncture wound. If you have any doubt, leave the object alone. They can be safely removed by a doctor.

Note: A child with a chronic condition, such as diabetes, should see a doctor right away if a wound is not healing well.

Your First-Aid Kits

If you do not have a first aid kit in your home, you can put one together, or purchase from your local American Red Cross, or drug store. It may be a good idea to have a first aid kit in your car as well.

Here are some supplies you should have in any first aid kit:

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests having a first aid kit in each car. In addition to items above, consider adding the following, especially during the summer months:

First aid classes are a good starting point for parents, teacher, or even babysitters. Class information is located on the American Red Cross and American Heart Association websites.

If you have a smartphone, consider downloading a first aid app from the American Red Cross. Features of the app include first aid instructions, ability to call for emergency medical help, and safety tips. You can even take quizzes and earn badges to increase your first aid knowledge.


American Heart Association

American Red Cross


Canadian Red Cross

Canada Safety Council


Anatomy of a first aid kit. American Red Cross website. Available at: Accessed August 14, 2017.

First aid guide for parents & caregivers. Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics website. Available at: Updated January 5, 2017. Accessed August 14, 2017.

How to build an essential summer first aid kit. Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics website. Available at: Updated April 29, 2015. Accessed August 14, 2017.

Laceration management. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: Updated October 25, 2016. Accessed August 14, 2017.

Markenson D, Ferguson JD, Chameides L, et al. Part 17: first aid: 2010 American Heart Association and American Red Cross guidelines for first aid. Circulation. 2010;122(18 Suppl 3):S934-S946.

What do I need in my first aid kit? Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: Updated June 2017. Accessed August 14, 2017.

Last reviewed August 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Woods, MD, FAAP  Last Updated: 8/14/2017