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Scrapes: Brief Version


Your child may have scrapes on the skin from falls. A scrape is red, raw, and may bleed a little. Sometimes scrapes can get dirt in them.

How can I take care of my child?

  • Clean the scrape.

    Wash your hands. Wash the wound with warm, soapy water for 5 minutes. If there is dirt, scrub the wound with a wet gauze or cloth. You may have to take out big pieces of dirt with tweezers.

    If there is tar in the wound, rub it with petroleum jelly, (such as Vaseline). This helps get rid of the tar. Then wash the scrape again with soap and water.

    Clean a pair of small, sharp scissors with rubbing alcohol. Cut off any loose pieces of skin with the scissors. Rinse the wound well.

  • Protect the scrape.

    Put an antibiotic ointment on the scrape. Cover it with a Band-Aid or gauze. This is very important when a scrape is over a joint (such as elbow, knee, or hand). When you use ointment, it keeps the scrape from cracking and coming back open.

    Clean your child's scrape once a day with warm water. Then put on fresh antibiotic ointment and a clean Band-Aid. Do this until the scrape heals.

  • Give pain relief.

    Give your child pain medicine if it hurts a lot. You can give acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil).

When should I call my child's healthcare provider?

Call right away if:

  • Your child's wound has dirt in it that you can't get out.
  • A large area of your child's skin is scraped off.
  • The scrape gets red streaks, or drains pus.
  • Your child has a fever.

Call during office hours if:

  • Your child hasn't had a tetanus shot in over 10 years.
  • The scrape doesn't heal in 2 weeks.
  • You have other questions or concerns.

Written by B.D. Schmitt, MD, author of "Your Child's Health," Bantam Books.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2009-06-22
Last reviewed: 2010-06-02

This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a health care professional.

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