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Abrasion is a broad term given to an injury such as a graze, scratch or cut. These injuries are very common throughout childhood and can generally be treated at home.

When to see your doctor

In most cases, your home first aid kit will be all you need for treating an abrasion yourself. But sometimes it’s important for your child to go to your local doctor. 

You should take your child to the doctor if:

  • the abrasion is deep and doesn’t stop bleeding, even when you apply firm pressure
  • there’s a lot of dirt, gravel or pieces of wood, metal or glass in the abrasion
  • it’s a large abrasion with rough or jagged edges
  • you’re unsure whether your child is up to date with his tetanus immunisation.
It’s important to have a home first aid kit handy. Your first aid kit should be organised, well stocked and available at all times. Make sure everyone in your family knows where it’s kept, and that everyone can get to it easily. You can buy first aid kits from your local pharmacy or from providers such as St John Ambulance Australia.

Treatment

It’s important to clean any abrasion immediately with running water to remove any dirt. Clean the surrounding skin with clean gauze or a handtowel soaked in warm water (cotton wool can leave fibres in the wound, so it’s better not to use it). Always wipe away from the wound, rather than wiping towards it – this way, you’ll avoid getting any more dirt in the wound.

Use a diluted antiseptic solution to clean the wound – this will sting, but it’ll help prevent infection. Then cover the wound with a sterile, non-stick dressing, such as Melolin.

If the wound’s bleeding, apply firm pressure for 10 minutes. You should change the dressing regularly, according to the dressing instructions. If the wound continues to bleed, even when you apply firm pressure, contact your local doctor or attend the emergency department at your nearest hospital.

It’s important to watch the wound for signs of infection after you first clean and dress it. Look for redness, pain, swelling or warmth. See a doctor if you notice these symptoms.

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  • Last Updated 01-06-2011
  • Last Reviewed 18-05-2011
  • Morelli, J.G. (2007). Principles of therapy. In R. Kliegman, R. Behrman, H. Jenson & B. Stanton (Eds), Nelson textbook of pediatrics (18th edn, pp. 2659-2661). Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.

    Royal Children’s Hospital (2010). Lacerations. Retrieved on 3 April 2011, from http://www.rch.org.au/clinicalguide/cpg.cfm?doc_id=5188.

    Royal Children’s Hospital (2010). Wound dressings: Acute traumatic wounds. Retrieved on 3 April 2011, from http://www.rch.org.au/clinicalguide/cpg.cfm?doc_id=9751.

    O'Sullivan, R., Oakley, E., & Starr, M. (2006). Wound repair in children. Australian Family Physician, 35(7), 476-9.

    Young, S.J., Barnett, P.L., & Oakley, E.A. (2005). Bruising, abrasions and lacerations: Minor injuries in children. The Medical Journal of Australia, 182(11), 588-92.

    Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (2009). Cuts and scrapes: First aid. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved 3 April 2011, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/first-aid-cuts/FA00042

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