Sooner or later, everybody gets a cut or a bruise or a scrape. Of course, if we are careful, it won’t happen as often as it does when we are careless. Most of these injuries seem much worse than they actually are. For example, some cuts look as if there is an awful lot of bleeding, but most of them stop bleeding by themselves within a few minutes. And since we all have a great deal of blood to spare, it doesn’t hurt us to lose a little once in a while. Just think of it, someone who gives a blood transfusion to another person gives about two full glasses of blood, and it doesn’t do any harm at all!
For some reason that’s hard to ex plain boys and girls cut their heads quite often, and these cuts usually bleed like the dickens. But here, too, there is no cause to get frightened, because the bleeding soon stops by itself in a short time.
Broken glass, tin cans, and knives are frequent causes of cuts. When we walk barefoot, it is important for us to know that there are no pieces of broken glass biding in the dirt or sand; when we open a tin can, we ought to be certain we know how to handle the pull ring so we don’t cut our fingers or hand; and when we use or play with knives or other sharp things, we must be specially careful.
Scrapes form scabs in a day or two, and the scabs fall off a few weeks later when the skin underneath is completely healed. You should never pick at.a scab, because that will lengthen the time it takes the scrape to heal.
Did you know that most bleeding can be stopped simply by pressing the cut area with clean fingers for a few minutes? It might be a good idea for us to tell you the best things to do when someone cuts himself:
1. First of all, don’t get too excited about the amount of blood you see.
2. If the cut is dirty, run lukewarm water from a faucet over it for a few minutes. If this doesn’t get rid of all the dirt, take a clean handkerchief or a piece of cotton or gauze, wet it, and gently wipe away the dirt.
3. If the bleeding continues, take the clean handkerchief or cotton or gauze, and put it directly on top of the cut and press down on it firmly and steadily for a few minutes. In most cases, this will stop the bleeding. If it stops, then probably all the cut will need is a Band-aid, or a gauze dressing held in place with some adhesive tape.
4. If the cut still bleeds, it is best to go to a doctor’s office or to the emergency room of the nearest hospital. In one of those two places, the doctor will stitch the wound together, and it will be as good as ever within a few days’ time.
5. Never pour a strong antiseptic, such as iodine or Mercurochrome, onto an open cut. These medicines may burn the tissues. The best thing to prevent infection in a cut is to wash it thoroughly with water and an ordinary soap.
A word about having a cut stitched: it doesn’t really hurt, because when you cut yourself, the edges of the wound become numb and you don’t feel pain very well. Also, if the cut is long or deep, the doctor will inject a medicine such as Novocain under the skin edges of the cut to take away the pain. This injection doesn’t hurt at all.
Stitches are put in with a needle and thread, almost exactly the way your mother sews a rip in your clothes. Sometimes the stitches are made of black silk, sometimes of nylon, and now there are several new kinds of threads made out of materials that the body can absorb. If this kind of thread is used, the doctor won’t have to bother removing the stitches. They will just disappear by themselves.
Stitches are left in anywhere from four to eight or nine days. The longer and deeper the cut, the more days the stitches are kept in place. Of course, as we just mentioned, the stitches that dissolve are left in place indefinitely until they disappear by themselves. But it hurts only slightly to take out stitches, so no one, even little tots, has be afraid. Sometimes, when the cut or scrape has been caused by something dirty or sty, a tetanus shot is given. This doesn’t hurt much and will prevent tetanus infection from taking hold in the injured area.
Bruises come from a hard bump something, or from being hit hard by a ball or some other solid object that doesn’t break open the skin bruises mean that the fat and the mus1es beneath the skin have been injured and that bleeding has taken place.
Bleeding beneath the skin almost ways stops by itself and requires relatively little treatment. Lots of children bump their heads, or fall on their heads and or are hit on the head, and these injuries can lead to a big swelling that hurts a lot for a while. But, of course, anyone can be bruised anywhere on the body.
Here is some advice on what to do if you should be bruised:
1. Wrap some ice in a napkin or handkerchief or towel and press it firmly against the bruised area for ten to fifteen minutes. The ice may stop the bleeding that is taking place beneath the skin.
2. After using the ice for ten to fifteen minutes, replace it with a cold, wet handkerchief or napkin or washcloth or towel for another ten to fifteen minutes.
A cut can often be cleaned by running lukewarm water over it, although deep dirt may have to be wiped away.
Bruises may take a few days before the swelling goes down and the discoloration of the skin disappears. If your skin is light in color to begin with, it will be interesting to watch the deep purple color of the bruise turn lighter over a few days’ time. As the bruise heals, the skin turns a bluish-green, then a lighter greenish-yellow, and finally the bruise disappears entirely. And if your skin is brown to begin with, the color of the bruised area will be much darker than that of the rest of your skin. But it, too, will lighten and return to normal as the bruise heals.
All children trip and fall and scrape themselves from time to time. It is natural to fall and scrape our skin when we run and play so much, and ride our bikes or skate or ski. And do you know the favorite places to get scrapes? Well, the knees seem to get it very, very often. And sometimes, our elbows or the tip of our noses.
Most scrapes don’t bleed very much, but they do ooze a yellowish substance called serum. Serum is made up of blood without the red cells. Scrapes can get infected very easily unless they are treated properly. And when they do get infected, they sometimes leave ugly looking scars when they heal.
Here are things to do when you get a bad scratch or scrape:
1. Since most scrapes happen outdoors, it is not unusual that dirt gets into the wound. As a result, it is very important to clean a scrape thoroughly so it doesn’t get infected. To do this, we should scrub the scraped area with ordinary soap and warm water for several minutes until it is clean. And would you believe it? It doesn’t really hurt very much to clean a scratch or scrape!
2. After cleaning the scrape, it should be covered with a clean gauze dressing, and the dressing held in place with some adhesive tape. If the scrape happens to be on the nose or face, we shouldn’t cover it at all. It will heal just as well if we leave it exposed to the open air.
3. Scrapes form scabs within a day or two, and the scabs may take a few weeks before they are ready to fall off. They are ready when the skin underneath them has healed completely. It is a very bad idea to pick at a scab. If we do, a new one will form and this will delay the time before it is ready to drop off.
4. If we don’t play with the scab and pick at it, and if we don’t fall again on the scraped area, most scrapes heal without leaving scars. Some youngsters with scabs on their noses have a habit of picking at them and removing part of the scab before it is ready to come off by itself. Do you know what happens then? A new scab forms! Why, once a boy did this and had a big scab on his nose for almost four months! His friends started calling him “cherry nose,” and for a long time after the scab fell off, he had a bright red scar on the tip of his nose.
Luckily, most children have skin that heals quickly and leaves very few bad scars. Even if it looks bad at first, as the child grows older, most scars disappear and are difficult to find even if we look for them. Therefore, never worry too much when you get a severe cut or scrape. It won’t damage your good looks. And even if it did, there are surgeons—we call them plastic surgeons—who specialize in getting rid of ugly scars.
A cut or scrape should be thoroughly washed with lukewarm water and soap. Any bleeding usually stops after a few minutes of direct pressure on the cut or scrape. It should then be covered with a gauze bandage, or clean handkerchief.