When kids get hurt, it is generally due to them being far more energetic than they are knowledgeable about physics. It’s pretty much guaranteed that every parent will wind up treating owies, booboos, bruises and even head injuries. Parents do this with some vague sense of medical best practices in mind, but they are often winging it based on what they’ve heard and seen. This is not necessarily dangerous, but it can be because there are so many misconceptions of how to handle children’s injuries.
It’s nice that knowledge gets passed down from generation to generation, but that transmission pathway has its flaws. A lot of old treatments have been disproven or proven dangerous. A kiss on a booboo has probably never killed a kid, but it has definitely given a few herpes. It’s that sort of thing that ought to make parents thinks twice — specifically about these seven common misconceptions.
Wounds Should Be Cleaned with Iodine, Hydrogen Peroxide or Alcohol
Older parents will remember the deep red of iodine being applied to their wounds. It was known in the parlance of children at the time as “monkey’s blood” which probably didn’t do much to quell any panic after an injury.
Iodine isn’t much in use in home first aid kits anymore, but alcohol and hydrogen peroxide are standbys for wound cleaning and disinfecting. The only problem is that these products can sting, making tears inevitable and treatment more difficult.
Happily, most wounds can be cleaned and disinfected with soap and warm water, which will be decidedly less painful. Although if there is significant gravel or dirt stuck in the wound, it needs to be gently removed during cleansing.
Band-Aids Don’t Really Need To Be Changed
A kid will often cling to the protection of an adhesive bandage. Some of this may be due to the fact that they can hurt like crazy as they come off. And, for many parents, the hassle is so real that they’ll let a kid wear a band-aid until the disgusting thing comes off on its own.
But if the wound was bleeding enough that it required an adhesive bandage, then that bandage should be changed. The last thing a parent needs is for a dirty bandage to infect what was once a totally treatable wound.
If kids are reluctant to change the bandage, it might help to tempt them with a new character or style and make removal easier by doing it during bath time when the warm soapy water will help both loosen up the adhesive and clean the wound below.
In Case of Poisoning, Induce Vomiting
Parents who suspect their kid has swallowed something poisonous can help ensure their child’s safety by calling the National Poison Control Hotline. It’s important to not skip the crucial call and reach for activated charcoal or syrup of ipecac.
The fact is that there are some substances that are bad going into a kid’s body and doubly harmful coming back up. Without a vast library of material safety data sheets, or a medical degree, a parent really isn’t the best person to decide the best course of action. If the folks at poison control suggest that a parent induce vomiting, and they happen to have the right stuff on hand, that’s fine. But more than likely it’s best handled by a medical professional.
Bandages Are Always Necessary for a Skinned Knee
When a kid comes limping into the house from an aggressive meetup with the ground, a parent’s first response is often to ask the kid if they need a bandage. But covering a wound isn’t always the best course of action.
For minor abrasions that aren’t actively bleeding, the only thing that covering the wound really does is keep it from rubbing against fabric and getting more irritated and painful. But really there’s nothing wrong with leaving a skinned knee open to the air to heal if the climate is appropriate for shorts. After all, a skinned knee is like a kid badge of honor.
It’s Okay to Walk it Off
There’s nothing wrong with encouraging a kid to get back into the game after an injury, as long as the injury was minor. That said, a kid that is clearly in pain and limping should not be encouraged to play through the pain. Children, and boys, in particular, are often encouraged to “toughen up” in response to pain. But pain is an indication that something is wrong and activity should stop. Ignoring that waning can make injuries much worse.
There is no play that’s so high stakes or important that a child should risk their health by gutting out a sprain. Let ‘em rest.
Kissing a Wound Makes it Better
While there’s nothing wrong with kissing a boo-boo, parents will want to be cautious when skin is raw and red. Open wounds should also give pause — not because they’re gross, but because parents could transfer viruses to their kid.
If parents are experiencing a herpes outbreak or have an open cold sore, then they should really hold off from actually kissing any owies.