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Wound Care in Children

A wound heals more quickly and has a lower risk of infection and scarring when the wound is cleaned and the wound edges are held together, or closed. Some cuts can be closed with tape strips called Steri-Strips or with skin glue. If a cut or surgical incision is deep or very long, staples or stitches, also called sutures, may be needed to close the wound.

After a wound is closed, the wound and the area around it must be kept clean and dry. The care of a stapled wound is similar to the care of a sutured wound. There are minor differences in caring for a wound closed with skin glue.

Common recommendations for cleaning a wound include:

  • Do not soak or scrub the wound. Your child should not take a bath, go swimming, or use a hot tub.
  • Do not let a wound closed with stitches or staples get wet for the first 24 hours. After 24 hours, you can gently wash the wound with soap and warm water twice a day, or let your child shower.
  • If a wound is closed with skin glue, keep the wound dry. Your child may briefly wet the wound in the shower.
  • If a wound is closed with tape strips, keep the strips dry for the first few days while your child is in the shower or bath. After showering or bathing, gently pat the wound dry with a soft towel.
  • Follow your child's healthcare provider's instructions about putting any kind of ointment on the wound. If the wound is closed with skin glue, do not put liquid, ointment, or any other product on the wound while the glue is in place. It may loosen the film before the wound is healed.
  • Follow your child's healthcare provider's instructions to cover the wound with a bandage to keep it from getting dirty. Be sure to keep the bandage dry. Put on a new bandage after cleaning the wound or if the old one gets dirty or wet. Make sure that your child does not scratch, rub, or pick at his stitches, staples, or skin glue. This may cause them to loosen before the wound is healed. If needed, put a clean, dry bandage over the wound to keep your child from picking at it.
  • For the first 1 or 2 days it may help if your child keeps the area propped up higher than his heart. This will help lessen pain and swelling.
  • Your child should protect the wound from more injury and from sunlight until the skin has had time to heal. Scars that have not been exposed to the sun usually fade over time.
  • Your child should avoid activities that cause a lot of sweating until the skin glue has naturally fallen off or the stitches or staples have been removed.

The tape strips are usually left on until they fall off. If they haven't fallen off after 2 weeks, they should be removed. Skin glue usually falls off on its own in 5 to 10 days.

Sutures or staples on the surface of the skin need to be removed by a healthcare provider 5 to 14 days after they were put in. The length of time depends on where the cut is. Your provider will tell you when your child's sutures or staples should be removed.

Any wound can get infected. Signs of infection include increased redness, red streaks, increased swelling, increased pain or tenderness, pus, warmth in the area of the wound, and fever. Contact your healthcare provider if you see any signs of infection.

Disclaimer: This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information provided is intended to be informative and educational and is not a replacement for professional medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.

HIA File inju3059.htm Release 13/2010

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