Spring is here. Time for fun in the sun, long days playing outdoors, and possibly more owies. Kids are going to get hurt. It’s part of growing up, and luckily they are very resilient and can bounce back from most injuries. Its important as a parent to know what needs quick medical attention, VS what you can care for at home. You’ll also need to know what to do right away to prevent the injury from becoming life threatening. We’ve compiled a list of the most common injuries, and what to do when they happen.
With any type of injury its important to first notice:
Location- Where on the body is the injury. Injuries on the face, neck, back, genitals, or head should usually be check out by a physician.
Severity- If you notice excessive bleeding, excessive swelling, difficulty breathing, confusion, or if large areas of the body are affected, visit your physician.
Possible Reaction- Even a small injury can be life threatening if there is a negative reaction such as fever or excessive swelling. Pay close attention to the individual and the affected area.
Bruises- Bruises are the most common injury that parents will see. Most bruises are nothing to worry about, but there are some cases when bruises will need special attention. First where is the bruise? If its on the head make sure your child does not have a concussion. Symptoms may include headaches, poor balance, amnesia, disorientation, nausea, ringing in the ears, or sensitivity to light. If you suspect a concussion seek medical attention right away. Have a look at the bruise, is it green? If so its probably an older bruise that is already healing itself. If its deep purple or very large it may be a hematoma and could require professional attention. Gently palpitate the bruise location. Is it extremely painful? If so check if your child can move the area without pain. If there is pain with movement you could be dealing with a broken bone and your child needs an x-ray. Remember never massage a new bruise. You can treat minor bruises and bumps by icing the area for 20 minutes on then 20 minutes off. Always protect the skin with a washcloth, never place ice directly on the skin.
Broken Bones: If you suspect your child has a broken bone take him or her to the doctor right away. The faster you can get the cast in place the smoother the recovery will be.
Sprains and strains- Sprain or strains can be just as painful and even more difficult to heal than some breaks. If you think they have a strain or sprain visit the doctor to rule out broken bones, especially if its on the neck or back. The best treatment is usually RICE (Rest, Ice (20 on 20 off no skin to ice contact), Compression (use an ace bandage, but not too tight- don’t cut off the blood supply), Elevation.
Cuts and Scrapes- Cuts an scrapes are very common and typically won’t need much more than a good cleaning, a Band-Aid and a kiss. Make sure its disinfected with peroxide or alcohol, and a bit of antibiotic ointment can’t hurt. Covering it with a bandage will prevent it from getting dirty later. You’ll need to go to the doctor if the would is deep, long or gaping. For serious cuts apply pressure to stop the bleeding and head straight to the doctor. If a cut has become infected, see your doctor. Infections can become very serious if not treated properly.
Burns: There are many kinds of burns, sun burns, hot water burns, grease burns, chemical burns, and burns from plants. There are also different degrees of burn, related to how many layers of the epidermis are damaged. First degree burns have only damaged the top layer of the skin. This is like a moderate sunburn. The burn will be red but not blistered, and can be treated at home with TLC and maybe some aloe gel. Second degree burns damage the first and second layers of the skin, and depending on the severity, may need professional treatment. A bad sunburn that blisters is a second degree burn, but you can treat it as you would a first degree burn. A second degree burn that is bigger than a quarter, or located in a sensitive area (like the face) should be treated by a doctor. If treating a small burn at home, run it under cool water for 15 minutes then apply a cold pack for up to 2 hours until the burning stops. After that care for the burn like a cut and watch for infection. A third degree burn has burned right through the skin and might have even burned the muscles underneath. You should go to the doctor as soon as possible. Second or third degree burns over large areas will require emergency treatment so call 911. 90% of household burns can be treated at home but severe burns can be life threatening so call 911.
Bee Stings: Bee stings are usually no big deal, but can be life threatening to someone who is allergic. You should seek immediate medical attention if a person shows any signs of an allergic reaction such as, vomiting, nausea, difficulty breathing or difficulty swallowing. The first step to treating any bee sting is to remove the stinger as quickly as possible. The stinger will continue to pump venom even after it has detached from the bee. This is why it is important to remove it as soon as possible in order to reduce the amount of venom injected. Pulling out the stinger could squeeze out the remaining venom so it is best to scrape out the stinger with a flat rigid object such as a credit card. Next clean the area thoroughly and apply ice. You can also try one of the many common home remedies which include everything from meat tenderizer to toothpaste.
Spider Bites: Again, spider bites are usually no big deal. Hopeful you can identify the spider and if it’s not a Widow, recluse, or some other nasty spider just treat the bite with some cortisone cream. Watch for infection and keep scratching to a minimum. If it’s a poisonous spider you are heading to the ER.
Snake Bites. A bite from a garden snake is probably not a big deal. Clean it well and watch for infection. A bite from a Rattlesnake, or other venomous snake is a good reason to head to the ER and call 911. First get away from the snake – it could bite again. Next calm the victim to keep the heart rate low and minimize the venom’s movement around the body. Remove any jewelry as the area will swell. Don’t use a tourniquet as it can cause the area to die from loss of blood. Many people think you should attempt to suck the venom from the wound being careful not to ingest any venom, but this is not an effective way to remove venom.
Ticks: For the most part ticks are relatively harmless but some bites can have serious side effects. If you notice a tick that has attached itself to your body carefully remove it with tweezers. Pull smoothly and steadily without twisting so that you can get the entire tick. Clean the area well to avoid infection and schedule an appointment with your doctor. Save the tick in alcohol so that you can show the Dr. Watch the victim for signs of sickness such as vomiting or fever. Keep a close eye on the area for a rash or infection. Lyme’s disease is a tick borne illness and a bulls eye rash forms around the area.
After any type of injury keep a close eye on the patient and the affected area. If you notice, excess swelling, confusion, rash, extreme tenderness, or if the wound doesn’t appear to be healing, seek medical attention immediately.
We hope that these tips are helpful for you, but they are in no way are a substitute for professional medical advice. Anytime you are worried about your child’s health, have them checked by an MD.