How to stop bleeding in children

Emergency treatment is needed if a cut is deep and may have penetrated through the skull. Call 911 or other emergency services immediately and:

  • Do not apply pressure if the skull is deformed. Signs of deformity may include sunken areas (other than the normal soft spots), bone fragments, or exposed brain.
  • Do not attempt to stop the blood or clear fluid drainage from the nose or ears.
  • Do not remove an object that penetrates the skull.

The following steps will protect the wound and protect you from another person's blood if emergency care is not needed.

  • Before you try to stop the bleeding:
    • Wash your hands well with soap and water (if available).
    • Put on latex medical gloves before applying pressure to the wound. If gloves are not available, use many layers of fabric or plastic bags between your hand and the wound.
    • Use your bare hands to apply pressure only as a last resort.
  • Have the child lie down.
  • Remove any visible objects from the scalp or wound but do not remove an object that has penetrated the skull. Do not attempt to clean out the wound.
  • Remove or cut clothing from around the wound. Remove any jewelry from the general area of the head or neck.
  • Press firmly on the wound with a clean cloth or the cleanest material available. If there is an object in the wound, apply pressure around the object, not directly over it.
  • Apply steady pressure for a full 10 minutes.
    • Use a clock to time the 10 minutes. It can seem like a long time.
    • Resist the urge to peek after a few minutes to see if bleeding has stopped.
    • If blood soaks through the cloth, apply another one without lifting the first.
  • After 10 minutes of steady pressure, if minimal bleeding returns when the pressure is released, reapply direct pressure to the wound for another 10 minutes.
    • Direct pressure may be applied up to 3 times (total of 30 minutes) for minimal bleeding.
  • If moderate to severe bleeding has not significantly slowed or stopped after 10 minutes, continue to apply firm pressure and elevate the area that is bleeding.

Watch for signs of shock.

Last Updated: July 9, 2008

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