By Clea Sherman
There are some mishaps that all children have at some stage while they’re playing and exploring. Here are the basic first aid tips for the most common childhood injuries*.
- HOW TO REMOVE A SPLINTER
Children love sticks, and what’s not to love? They’re especially fun to run with, and hurl at siblings. But those pesky things, along with risky adventures in tree climbing often result in the wail of a child with a splinter in their hand / foot / rear end.
Tools for removing a splinter: Clean hands, tweezers, sewing needle, sticky tape.
If the end is poking out you can actually try sticky tape to pull out a splinter. If that doesn’t work, some gentle coaxing with a pair of sterilized tweezers might just do the trick.
If the splinter has gone right under the skin it can be quite painful. Your offspring might be brave enough to withstand you carefully digging it out with a sterilized sewing needle. (Or you might have better luck nailing jelly to the wall).
There may be a point where you realise your own powers of extraction aren’t going to cut it. There are products you can keep in the first aid kit which aid splinter removal by acting as a ‘drawing’ agent. You can also make your own by mixing baking powder and water to create a paste which you apply to the affected area, cover with a bandaid and wait 24 hours before trying to get it out again.
Most splinters will actually work their way out on their own and so long as the area is kept clean and wiped with Dettol your child or toddler will be back on the playground in no time. However, if the splinter is causing a huge amount of pain or is stuck in some terrible spot like under a toenail don’t leave it too long to pop into a nearby medical clinic.
- HOW TO TREAT A CRUSH INJURY
“For the last time, get in the car!” you yell, agitated because you haven’t arrived somewhere on time in over five years. Slam! “Waaaaaaah!” You do actually need to wait for them to be completely in before you shut the door.
Once you’ve stopped apologizing and promising ice cream you’ll have to make a call on how bad the damage is based on how the fingers are looking and how much pain the child appears to be in. If there is blood building up under a nail it can be excruciating and you’ll need a doctor’s help to ease the pressure. If the child can’t move their fingers then you’re looking at a bad crush or even a break and you’d better cancel that playdate and head for the emergency room. If the fingers don’t look mangled and the child can wriggle them apply first aid by treating the bruising with ice after the screaming has subsided.
As for you, you door slamming mad-woman, apply wine/meditation/chamomile tea until intense guilt has subsided.
- HOW TO TREAT SUNBURN
The heat of the summer sun can cause sunburn before you know it and leave you with a very red and unhappy child.
Treat a mild case of sunburn with a cool bath or shower, aloe vera gels, drinking water, over the counter pain killers and a lot of lectures about the dangers of playing outdoors and the horrible skin cancer that Aunt Ethel had to have cut out. If the sunburn is so bad that blisters are forming, some home remedies recommend placing sliced tomato on the affected area, but if you’re worried see your doctor.
You can tell if your child has sunstroke if he or she becomes very lethargic, doesn’t want to eat or drink and starts feeling nauseous, dizzy or throwing up. A doctor won’t be able to offer a quick cure, but they’ll address dehydration and give you the right advice for treatment going forwards.
- WHAT TO DO FOR CARPET BURN
This one is such a classic childhood injury which comes from general tomfoolery (and generally involves an over-enthusiastic father), but a carpet / rug burn can be quite painful, especially if it’s over a big area.
Clean the child’s burn with warm water and antibacterial soap and get some kind of disinfectant on it before covering up with a band-aid. Keep an eye on it to make sure a scab is forming and don’t let them pick at it!
- TREATMENT FOR ROAD RASH
Fact: Skateboards/bikes/billycarts + children = road / gravel rash
It never hurts to have a first aid kit in the cupboard and even one in the car. In it will be some saline solution, the perfect tool for washing the dirt out of a knee or elbow that has hit the bitumen. If you don’t have any then warm, soapy water will do.
Don’t scrub at this kind of abrasion but keep washing it gently until it’s as clean as possible and then cover with sterile gauze. If you’re worried that there’s still a lot of dirt you can try tweezers or you may need the help of a professional. Otherwise change the dressings regularly, adding antibiotic ointment to protect and lubricate the wound.
The risk here is infection from any dirt that has been left behind, so keep an eye on the wound and if it gets red and doesn’t look like it’s healing then it’s time for some medical intervention.
*This is a basic guide for minor injuries. Your instinct is the best tool when it comes to accidents and children – if in any doubt, contact your medical professional and check it out.
Clea Sherman is a regular contributor to The Family Beast. She also writes for Mouths of Mums.
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