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Minor Cut: How to Care for Your Child

Your child's cut will heal on its own in a few days, so it doesn't need to be closed with stitches or medical glue. When skin gets cut it can get infected, so the health care provider cleaned your child's wound carefully. You can help prevent infection by taking good care of the cut as it heals.

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  • Keep the wound as dry as possible for 24 hours. You can use a clean, damp cloth to gently wash the skin around it.

  • After 24 hours, your child may shower or take a bath.

  • You can give medicine for pain if your health care provider says it's OK. Use one of these medicines exactly as directed:

    • acetaminophen (such as Tylenol® or a store brand)OR

    • ibuprofen (such as Advil®, Motrin® or a store brand). Don't give to babies under 6 months old.

  • If your health care provider recommends it, spread a thin layer of antibiotic ointment over the cut, then cover it with a bandage.

  • Some mild redness around the wound is normal. Check the wound every day to make sure the red area is not getting bigger.

  • Make sure your child's tetanus vaccine is up to date.

  • After the cut has healed, put sunscreen on the scar before your child goes outside. This will help protect the scar from burning and prevent it from getting darker.

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  • Your child has more redness, warmth or swelling around the wound. These could be signs of an infection.

  • Red streaks are coming from the wound.

  • Pus is draining from the wound.

  • Your child gets a fever.

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Why does a cut get a scar? When a deeper part of the skin is injured, the body uses a protein (collagen) to help fill in the cut area. The filled-in area becomes a scar.

Even a small cut can leave a scar. Over time, some scars fade or get smaller.

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