Bleeding: First Aid


In most cases, when your child scrapes or cuts herself, the bleeding will stop quickly. Although the amount of bleeding may seem like a lot, most minor wounds do not result in major blood loss or complications. However, if the bleeding does not stop, you will have to act quickly to prevent too much blood loss and maybe even shock. Shock occurs when the circulatory system fails to provide enough blood to all parts of the body.

Signs of shock may include:

  • pale, grey skin
  • drop in temperature
  • sweating
  • fast breathing
  • loss of consciousness



When treating any type of wound, minor or severe, have your child rest. Encourage her to sit or lie down.


Be sure to raise the wounded area above her heart. This will reduce the amount of blood flowing to the wound. If the wound is dirty, you can rinse it gently with clean, cool, or warm tap water. Do not use hot water. You can also use bottled water or a saline wound spray to clean the wound. Do not use alcohol, iodine, mercurochrome, hydrogen peroxide, or other similar agents to clean the wound. These solutions will cause pain and/or irritation.

Direct pressure

Before you try to stop the bleeding, clean your hands to reduce the risk of infection. If you do not know the person that you are helping, wear gloves to protect yourself from any potential, transmissible diseases. Take sterile gauze or a clean cloth and press firmly on the wound to stop the bleeding. Continue to apply pressure to the area for at least 5 minutes. When the bleeding has slowed or stopped, secure the dressing with tape.

If your child is showing any signs of shock, call 911 right away.

Embedded Object

If an object is embedded, or stuck in your child's body, do not take it out. Pulling it out could cause the bleeding to worsen. Instead, protect and cover the area with sterile gauze. Make sure to not push the object deeper into the wound. Wrap bandage rolls over the wound. Secure the bandage rolls above and below the wound. Seek medical attention right away to have the object removed and the wound cared for.

When to see a doctor

  • If the bleeding continues for more than 5 minutes, despite applying firm pressure to the area.
  • If you are unable to properly clean the wound or if it appears dirty.
  • If there are signs of shock.
  • If the wound is on the child's neck or face.
  • If the injury was caused by an electrical burn, an animal or human bite, a burn or a puncture wound (ex. a nail piercing the skin).
  • If there is an object embedded in the wound.
  • If the cut is deep and looks like it might need stitches.
  • If the child has not had a shot for tetanus or if it has been longer than 10 years since the last tetanus shot.

Key points

  • If your child's wound does not stop bleeding on its own, act quickly to prevent too much blood loss and shock.
  • Signs of shock include pale skin, a drop in temperature, sweating, fast breathing, and loss of consciousness.
  • If your child is showing any sign of shock, call 911 right away.
  • Raise the wound so it is above the heart. This will reduce the amount of blood flowing to the wounded area.
  • Be sure your hands are clean, or wear disposable gloves, when treating your child's wound.
  • If an object is embedded in your child's body, do not remove it. Cover the area with clean bandage rolls and seek medical attention right away.
Elly Berger, BA, MD, FRCPC, FAAP, MHPE