Minor injuries in children (those that could reasonably be expected to heal with minimal medical intervention) are extremely common. The possibility of more serious injuries should be considered and excluded early.
Successful examination requires gaining the child’s trust, relieving pain early, and using a flexible and creative examination technique.
Bruising may suggest a more serious underlying injury, or the bruising pattern may indicate non-accidental injury or a bleeding disorder.
Superficial abrasions and lacerations can be safely cleaned with good quality water, and all foreign material should be removed. Deeper wounds with suspected damage to nerves, tendons or circulation need formal exploration under a general anaesthetic.
Good local anaesthesia can be produced by topical preparations, and many wounds can be closed with tissue adhesives with an excellent cosmetic result.
Antibiotics should be prescribed for specific circumstances, such as wounds with extensive contamination or tissue damage, and all children with injuries should be checked for adequate tetanus cover for prophylaxis.
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