As your child becomes physically active at play, he is more prone to bodily injuries ranging from skin bruises, grazes, minor cuts, deep lacerations, or even bone fractures and dislocations. Small children may acquire such injuries inadvertently during a fun-filled activity with neighbors and day care friends, while older children can get injured during sporting activities.

The most common injury obtained by children is a skin graze or abrasion. The skin is the largest organ of the body which serves as the body’s first line of protection. It is soft and can be stretched to allow movement, but strong and resilient to resist breaking. Thus, it is made up of 2 layers: epidermis and dermis. The dermis is the innermost lining of the skin that contains protein fibers, nerves, blood vessels, hair follicles, sebaceous and sweat glands. The epidermis, on the other hand, is the outermost coating of the skin that is made up of several layers of tightly bounded cells. This is the layer that is violated or broken in skin abrasions.

Skin abrasions are sometimes called grazes, gravel rash, or carpet burns. It is also known as ‘scrape’ because the top layers of the skin are scraped off, like when your child stumbled on his knees and hit a rough surface. Although bleeding is not usually severe, skin abrasions are very painful. It is recommended that all people, not only parents, who care for children, should know how to do proper first aid management for this type of skin injury.

1. Wash your hands before starting to treat the wound to avoid the possibility of transmitting any infecting microbes to the broken skin. (Infecting the site can cause delayed healing.)

2. If there is ongoing bleeding, just apply pressure to the wound with a clean dressing, or a clean cloth, or a clean tissue paper.

3. Wash the injured area with clean water and soap. Remove any dirt like small stones and other foreign matter that is embedded in the wound by using sterile gauze to prevent infection. (If the dirt can not be removed, cover the wound with a sterile dressing and seek professional help.)

4. Once the wound is already cleaned, apply antiseptic solution, cream or lotion. (Do not use hydrogen peroxide or one containing alcohol.)

5. Cover the wound with sterile non-adherent dressings. Dressings that stick to the wound should be avoided because getting them off is painful.

6. After several hours, a yellow crust will form on the surface of the wound. Do not remove this as this will serve as a protective layer that will eventually harden. At this time, it is best to leave the wound open to the air and kept dry for faster healing. However, if the child is likely to have another injury or likely to pick up the crust, it is best to leave the dressing on.

7. Let the crust (or scab) fall off by themselves.

8. While the wound is healing, it becomes itchier. If the child could no resist scratching the sore, it is better to continue covering it with sterile gauze until the wound is completely healed.

9. No matter how small the wound is, it is important to assess your child’s tetanus immunization status. Bring your child to the doctor without delay if he has not had the full number of tetanus injection, or it’s been 5 years or longer since his last tetanus vaccination.

Remember, any breaks on the skin can be an entry site for any bacteria and other infecting germs. Suspect an infected wound if healing does not start within 2 days. Signs of wound infection include increasing pain, heat, swelling, and redness around the wound, pus leaking out from the wound, enlarged and painful lymph nodes in the groin or armpit, and fever. In this case, you should have your child see a doctor for proper evaluation and management.

If these simple first aid steps are followed, skin abrasions should heal quickly.