How to treat the bumps and bruises that come with summer – Part 1

As the weather gets warmer outside, your little ones are sure to be itching to get out to enjoy summer. While it is only natural to want to keep your children inside and under constant supervision, it is inevitable that they will venture out to have fun. In this post, we’ll talk about the common bumps and bruises that your children may acquire and how to treat them at home. Properly addressing these minor injuries will ensure that they continue to have fun until the snow starts falling again in the fall.

And, as always, consult your pediatrician should you suspect any injuries to be more serious than they appear. Kids are pretty resilient but not invincible. In case of broken bones or other traumatic events, call 911 immediately.

Scrapes and abrasions

Abrasion on arm

Abrasion on arm

When kids run, jump, and play, skinned knees and elbows are almost guaranteed, especially when they are wearing t-shirts and shorts. Normally, an abrasion is superficial and doesn’t go deeper than the dermis. Because of this, bleeding is usually pretty minimal. Sure, your child may make it seem like it is more serious than it is but a quick inspection should give you an idea about how to treat it. Should the scrape go deeper than the dermis and into the subcutaneous layer, beeding will be heavier and it is possible that fatty tissue, muscle tissue, or even bone can be observed. This type of injury, called an avulsion, is more serious and requires a visit to urgent care or your Idaho Falls pediatrician.

Light scrapes that cause a little or no bleeding should be cleaned as soon as possible and treated with an antibiotic such as Neosporin and bandaged with an appropriate dressing such as a Band-aid or other sterile bandage.


Children fall off of things. All. The. Time. Other than the jitters most parents experience when this happens, most times falls simply result in bruises, scrapes, and small cuts. The very first thing you should do if your child falls just a few feet is to control your panic. Children react accordingly to how you act so show concern but also keep a cool head. Inspect your child for any injuries and treat them as necessary. For falls that result in your child’s head hitting a hard surface, take particular attention to the injured area. Concussions are a serious concern and require a visit to the ER should one be suspected. Also, falls from higher than just a few feet can result in broken bones, sprains, and dislocated joints. If you suspect that your child has fallen from a height higher than a couch arm rest, make sure to give your child a good once over to make sure they aren’t seriously injured.


Bruise on sprained ankle

Bruise on sprained ankle

A bruise, or contusion, is simply bleeding under the skin caused by a blow or rapid stretching which causes capillaries to break and leak blood into the surrounding interstitial tissue. Small bruises are typically not considered life threatening or dangerous – they just look bad. Normally, bruises sustained through rough horsing and regular play are small, purple or brown, and localized in the skin. Bruises that are very dark/red can indicate more serious trauma and should be monitored for changes in color and size. If a bruise is serious enough, it can cause potentially life threatening conditions. If your child receives a large bruise from a fall or other impact, you need to call your pediatrician as soon as possible. Otherwise, a visit to urgent care or the ER should be considered. Treatment for a light to mild bruise includes rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE). If you suspect that a bruise is being caused by internal bleeding, get your child to the ER right away.


2nd Degree Scald Burn

2nd Degree Scald Burn

Burns are not much fun at all. But, being a kid means that getting burned is inevitable. Thermal burns, such as scalding, are the most common causes of burn injuries to children 5 years of age and under. Scalding burns (as well as sunburns) typically cause 1st and 2nd degree burns which cause painful redding of the skin and blisters, respectively. 1st and 2nd degree burns are characterized by dry skin at the burn site and include moderate to high levels of pain. As long as these types of burns are localized, they can be treated at home using cold water applied directly to the burn. Avoid placing ice directly on the burn as ice could cause further injury. Instead, wrap ice in a towel or cloth that has been soaked in cold water. Dressing a 1st or 2nd degree burn has not been proven to be beneficial for treatment, so it is best to just let the burn heal on its own. Also, resist the temptation to lance any blisters that may develop. Blisters are the body’s way of protecting the underlying tissue from further damage and drained blisters could become infected. Leave the blisters be.

If the burn chars the skin, and no pain is felt at the burn area, your child may have received a 3rd degree burn and a visit to the ER needs to happen. 3rd degree burns are very serious and left untreated will most likely develop into serious and life threatening infections. So, the rule of thumb is if the burn is localized and painful, it can be treated at home. If the burn covers large parts of the body or chars the skin with no pain, get your child to the ER.

Check out part 2 of “How to treat the bumps and bruises that come with summer” for information about the cuts, stubs, bends, and breaks your child might experience during summer time fun.

If you believe your child has had an especially rough summer, make sure to schedule an appointment with your Idaho Falls pediatrics at The Pediatric Center. We can help you determine the best course of action for anything that comes your way concerning your child’s health and safety. Also, be sure to check out our Parent Education center which covers many other childhood medical conditions such as:

We pride ourselves in being the best pediatric authority in Idaho Falls and our pediatricians have extensive training and experience so as to provide you and your child with the best pediatric care possible. We offer two convenient locations in eastern Idaho to serve you and we accept most major insurance plans and Medicaid. With flexible office hours and a professional support staff, The Pediatric Center is the best place to take your children when summer fun results in bumps and bruises.

2nd degree Burn Image Credit: Snickerdo at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., CC BY-SA 3.0, Link