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How to treat cuts and bleeding

Many cuts and grazes are minor and can be easily treated at home. Cleaning the wound and covering it with a plaster is usually all that's needed.

Wash your hands before touching the cut or graze to prevent infection.

Minor wounds should start to heal within a few days.

How to clean and cover the wound

If your child has a minor cut:

  1. Wash your hands. Use disposable gloves if you have them to reduce the risk of infection.
  2. Clean the cut — use cool running water.
  3. Check the wound to see if there is an object stuck in it.
  4. If there is no object in the wound, cover the cut with a clean non-fluffy dressing. Use a sterile adhesive dressing or a plaster.

Removing an object in the wound

If there is an object stuck in the wound, like a piece of glass, do not press on the object to remove it. Press either side of it instead.

If you can't remove the object or you think that there is a risk of infection go to one of the following:

Stop the bleeding

If there's a lot of bleeding, apply light pressure to the area using a clean cloth or pad for several minutes. You can use a bandage, towel or handkerchief. If you don't have one, use your fingers. Make sure your fingers are clean.

If possible, raise the injured limb (arm or leg). This will help to stop the bleeding. Don't do it if you think the limb might be broken.

If blood soaks through the pad or dressing, leave it there and put another pad or dressing over the top.

Heavy bleeding

You usually won't have serious blood loss from a wound. They usually don't bleed that much.

You usually won't need to call an ambulance.

But you should call 999 or 112 or go to your nearest hospital emergency department (A&E) or a minor injury unit if:

  • you cannot stop the bleeding
  • there's bleeding from an artery — blood from an artery comes out in spurts with each beat of the heart. It is bright red and is usually hard to control

Nosebleeds

Nosebleeds aren't usually a sign of anything serious. They're common, particularly in children. Most can be easily treated at home.

You should see your GP if your child is under 2 years old and has a nosebleed.

If your child has a nosebleed:

  1. Get them to sit down.
  2. Tilt their head forwards
  3. Pinch the end of their nose for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, check their nose. If their nose is still bleeding, pinch for another 10 minutes.

Go to your GP or nearest emergency department (ED) if the nose continues to bleed.

Related topic

When to get medical help for your child

Page last reviewed: 28/03/2019
Next review due: 28/03/2022