The sight of blood can be very frightening, both for a child and a parent. If your child is bleeding, the most important first step is to remain calm so you can figure out where the blood is coming from. The following first aid tips can help after you know what you’re dealing with.
1. Superficial wounds. If your child has fallen down and has a scrape, wash the area with mild soap and water, then cover the wound with a clean bandage. You can also apply an antibiotic ointment to prevent infection.
2. Scalp wounds. A cut on the scalp is notorious for bleeding a lot, even if it is not very deep. Apply pressure with a clean cloth or bandage for several minutes until the bleeding stops then wash with mild soap and water. Only after cleaning the wound will you be able to tell if it is a deep cut and needs immediate medical treatment.
3. Deep cuts. If your child has sustained a deep cut anywhere on the body, remove any obvious loose debris from the wound and then immediately apply direct pressure with a clean cloth or gauze. If the cut is on an arm or leg, check for warmth and color in the area beyond the injury, and if anything looks amiss, seek medical attention immediately. Do not peek to see if the bleeding has stopped as this may pull off the forming clot and cause the area to begin bleeding again. If the bleeding continues and soaks through the dressing, do not change the dressing. Just reinforce the dressing with more cloth or gauze and head straight to the emergency room. Never try to clean a deep wound after you get the bleeding under control as this may cause it to start bleeding again.
4. Nosebleeds. Nosebleeds are extremely common in toddlers and are usually caused by nose picking or a dry climate. Nosebleeds are rarely a cause for alarm as they usually stop on their own. Sit your child in your lap and tilt the head forward, then gently pinch the soft part of the nose (just below the bone) for 5-10 minutes. If your child leans back, the blood may flow down the back of his or her throat and cause stomach irritation. Seek medical attention if the bleeding does not stop on its own after 20 minutes of applying pressure.
Seek emergency help immediately if your child’s bleeding does not stop easily or if you think that the wound is severe enough to require stitches. Be sure that your child is up-to-date on all vaccines, as a deep wound may increase the risk for tetanus.
Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, April 2019
- If your child is bleeding, remain calm and find out where the blood is coming from.
- Nosebleeds are common and will typically stop on their own.
- Emergency medical services are necessary if bleeding does not stop easily or if the wound requires stitches.