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Acute Bleeding

Cuts and Lacerations

Nearly all youngsters scrape their knees or elbows from time to time, often causing mild bleeding. However, when children suffer a serious cut or laceration, or profuse bleeding, this should be treated as an emergency.

First, clean the wound with soap and water, even placing it under running water, which will allow you to examine the wound closely and gauge the intensity of the bleeding. Next, your immediate task is to stop the bleeding. Apply a sterile gauze pad over the cut. (If gauze is not available, use a clean handkerchief, towel, or shirt.) Press forcefully with the palm of the hand until the bleeding subsides, and then keep the dressing on for a few extra minutes. If the gauze becomes saturated, put a new layer over the one that is there. Seek medical attention to determine if the laceration requires suturing in order to be closed and heal well.

If the bleeding is pulsating or spurting and continues this way for several minutes, it may be harder to stop. In that case, apply direct pressure and call 911 or your emergency number. Large amounts of blood loss can cause a lapse into a state of shock. You can minimize the chances of shock, however, by having your child lie down and elevate her feet a few inches until the emergency team arrives. If the cut is deep or its edges are rough, take your child to the emergency room. Wounds such as this almost always need emergency care.


Nosebleeds can have a variety of causes, including a child's picking his nose, a blow to the nose, allergies, and sinus infections. As with other types of bleeding, the primary treatment for nosebleeds is to apply pressure. Have your child sit down and, if he is old enough, use his thumb and index finger to squeeze firmly just behind the tip of the nose while continuing to breathe through the mouth. Parents of a younger child will have to apply the pressure themselves. After five to ten minutes the bleeding should stop.

In most cases you do not need to become overly concerned about blood loss from a nosebleed. However, if the bleeding continues for more than ten minutes or recurs, call your pediatrician, who might suggest that your child be seen by a doctor, perhaps in an emergency room.

Last Updated
Caring for Your School-Age Child: Ages 5 to 12 (Copyright © 2004 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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