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First aid care for common child injuries around the home

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New Zealand first aid supplies

First aid care for common child injuries around the home

A parents of small children one always fear the moment your child gets hurt –accidents happen.

As our brave little children start the process of walking we realise we cannot protect them 100% of the time from getting hurt. We need to be prepared to apply immediate first aid to help them feel better and to ease the shock and pain arising from an injury. There is plenty you can do to make them feel better. Below are some quick tips in dealing with the most common injuries found around the home.

Cuts or scrapes

Action: Rinse the wound with sterile water or saline solution. If the wound is bleeding, apply pressure to help stop the bleeding. Use a sterile wipe or clean cloth to apply pressure to the wound until bleeding stops. This may take 3 - 15 minutes before bleeding stops. Once the bleeding stops check the wound for any sign of foreign objects or dirt. These should be carefully removed and the area cleaned once more. Dab the affected area dry using a sterile cloth. If the injury has been caused by rusted metal objects or an animal it is recommended that further medical attention is sought as the injury may require medical staff to administer a tentinus injection.

It is a good idea to keep a general antiseptic cream or spray in your first aid kit to apply after you have finished cleaning the wound. Cover the wound with a non-adherent pad or gauze pad and bandage if the wound area is significant. Small injuries can be protected with a plaster containing a non-adhesive pad to cover the wound. If you can't control the bleeding after several attempts with direct pressure, keep pressure on and take the the child for medical atttention at your closest A & E or doctor.

If a large piece of skin has been removed, wrap it in a clean, moist cloth and place it in a bag over ice - the medical staff may be able to re-attach it.

After Care: Dab on the anti-septic ointment and apply a new bandage daily (or twice daily, if it's a large or deep wound) until the cut heals, so your child can't pick at it. If it appears to be forming or draining pus or becomes swollen, tender, or red, see a doctor right away to treat the infection. After the wound heals, slather on Sunscreen SPF 30 minimum, until it starts to fade, because newly healed skin can sunburn more easily, making the scar more noticeable.


Act Fast: Immediately hold the injured area under cool running water until the pain subsides. The longer the better. The child may be upset and in pain but remember that this step is crucial. Keep the area clean. If it is a very small burn area,you can treat it with a burn dressing. Sterile paraffin gauze dressing are great as it will not get stuck to the skin and assists with the healing process. Keep it covered to prevent infection. Should the burns be on the face, hands, or genitals, or if they're larger than ½ cm anywhere on the body and if the burn looks deep – the skin appears white or brown and dry you must go to the A&E immediately. For a burn covering a tenth of the body or more, don't use cold compresses; call 111 and cover the child with a clean sheet or a blanket to prevent hypothermia until help arrives.

After Care: Don't pop any blisters yourself. If the skin breaks, apply an anti-septic cream and cover the area with a paraffin gauze and tape until it's healed. Watch for any redness, swelling, tenderness, or discharge – it may be infected take them to the doctor for further treatment.


Action: Have your child sit upright, don't tilt her head back. Loosen any tight clothing around the neck. Pinch the lower end of the nose close to the nostrils and have her lean forward while you apply pressure continuously for five to ten minutes. Don't release and check the nose; it could prolong the bleeding.

Follow-Up Care: If the nosebleed is the result of a trauma, reduce swelling by holding an ice pack against the bridge of the nose after the bleeding slows down. Cover the ice pack with a cloth to prevent the skin getting ice burn. Of you cannot control the bleed after 10 – 15 minutes or if it re-occurs again there may be break and you should take them to the doctor.

Splinter or Glass

Action: Use soap and water to wash around the splinter. Clean a pair of tweezers or splinter probe with rubbing alcohol or alcohol wipe and slowly pull the splinter out. Wash the skin again. When a splinter is hard to remove, leave it for a day or so to see whether it comes out on its own. If your child steps on a piece of glass, and it's not a single shard you can easily remove, gently wrap a clean cloth around the area and go to the A & E. Glass shards left inside can lead to infection.

After: If you have left a hard to reach splinter and it isn't out after a few days or is causing your child pain, turning red, or has pus, see your doctor to have it removed safely.

Eye Trauma

Action: For a small eye irritation like a little bit of sandpit sand in the eye use some saline solution or water to flush the eye out. If your child has severe pain, constant tearing, light sensitivity, or blurry vision after being poked or hit in the eye, hold a cool, wet cloth over the area and take them straight to A&E. He may have a scratch on the eye's surface, which is treated with prescription drops or ointment and usually heals within 48 hours. If a chemical has been splashed in his eye, hold the lid open and flush with lukewarm water and call The National Poisons Centre which has a 24-hour free phone 0800 764 766 to ask their expert help with the particular chemical that was spilled in the eye.

After Care: Monitor your child for pain and vision problems in the weeks that follow a poked eye. These could be a sign of traumatic iritis, an inflammation of the coloured part of the eye, or a deeper injury. Seek help immediately if they have any difficulty.

Insect Bites or Stings

Action: If the insect left a stinger, gently scrape the skin with your fingernail or a credit card to remove it without breaking it. (Using tweezers can squeeze out more venom.) Call 111 or rush them to A&E if they are close by if your child has trouble breathing, is coughing, or develops a hoarse voice, hives, or swollen lips or tongue. : For itching, hold a cold compress over the area for a minute, or apply calamine lotion or a 1% hydrocortisone cream or topical antihistamine cream (if the skin isn't broken or scabbed). After Care: Contact your doctor if you child shows any signs of fewer or reaction

First-Aid FAQ

Q: Do cuts heal faster under a bandage or when left to "breathe"?
A: While a cut is still open, a bandage can help prevent infection and scabs. But after a few days, a little air can speed healing. You can put your child to bed without a bandage, and if you can do it without disturbing him too much, sneak in a couple hours later to reapply a new one.

Q: Any tricks to getting my child to tolerate an ice pack?
A: Parents tend to make the pack too cold, often by placing ice in a thin plastic bag. But a compress doesn't need to be frigid to bring down swelling; just wrap some ice in a dry washcloth. Younger kids might like the animal-shaped compresses you keep in the fridge or freezer.

Q: After an injury, when does a child need to get a tetanus shot?
A: Some wounds caused by a dirty, rusty, or dusty object put a child at risk for tetanus. You can call your doctors to discuss the child’s tetanus risk.

How to Calm Your Child

Keep your expression and tone of voice as relaxed as you possibly can, and try these doctor-tested tips.

If Your Child Is 5 or Younger

Cover wounds with a cloth as you treat them. If you can, have another adult do the bandaging while you comfort your child. Distract them with books, small toys, bubbles, or stickers. Use age-appropriate words. If your child doesn't know what a hospital is, say it's a place where people help ‘outchies’ feel better.

If Your Child Is Between 6 & 12

Involve him in first aid. Even letting him hold the ointment can help him feel more in control. Keep him busy with movies or TV shows, portable electronic games, an iPod with calming music, or stories Be prepared for any eventualities and the actions you need to take that will keep you calm in the event of something happening as you would know what steps to take. Have a well-stocked first aid kit.

DisclaimerAll content on this Web site, including medical opinion and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. Use of this site and the information contained herein does not create a doctorpatient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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A well stocked first aid kit can save lives

Be ready to respond - A well-stocked first-aid kit can help you respond effectively to common injuries and emergencies. Keep at least one first-aid kit in your home and one in your car. Store your kits in an easy to reach place - out of the reach of young children. Prepare children for medical emergencies in age-appropriate ways. Check your kits at least once every 6 months and replace expired and used products. Consider taking a first-aid course. You can buy our already pre-packed first-aid kits or assemble your own. You may want to tailor your kit based on your activities and needs. We retain a large stock of generally required items for replentishing first aid kits.

Click here for some advice on the basic care of injuries around the home  first aid guide

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