First Aid Advice for Nurse Mom

You’re the first responder for your family’s cuts and bruises-—but are you sure you know what to do? 


1 of 4

Nosebleeds and Road Rashes

first aid for nosebleed

Illustration by Julie Houts

Illustration by Julie Houts

Your kid has a nosebleed. What’s the fastest way  to stop the flow?

A Tip back her head
B Pinch her nostrils together tightly
C Have her lie down 

Hold the nostrils together just below the bony part of the nose. It’s where you’d pinch if you were going underwater,” says Therese Canares, MD, assistant professor of pediatric emergency medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “Keep squeezing for 5 to 10 minutes nonstop. And refrain from nose blowing. Otherwise, bleeding may restart.” Avoid having your child lean back or recline. Swallowing blood may cause her to vomit.
Answer: B

Your daughter took a spill off her bike and ended up with road rash. What’s the right way to care for a cut or scrape?

A Pour peroxide or alcohol over it to disinfect it
B Use soap and water to cleanse it 
C Apply an antibacterial cream

Believe it or not, soap and water are all that’s required. “Antiseptics such as peroxide kill healthy cells along with the germs,” says Charles Pattavina, MD, spokesperson for the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP). “A dab of petroleum jelly or antibacterial cream is fine but not essential. Avoid using neomycin, which often causes skin reactions in kids.”
Answer: B


2 of 4

Concussions and Eye Issues

first aid concussion

Illustration by Julie Houts

Illustration by Julie Houts

Your child whacked his head hard during a football game. What are the signs he has a concussion?

A Your child says he doesn’t feel right
B Your child sleeps more or less than usual in the days after the injury
C Your child seems more irritable or moody 

Sometimes the signs of a concussion are obvious: Your child complains of a headache, feels dizzy or appears dazed. But some symptoms are subtle and may not show up until hours or days afterward. “The dangerous part is if you don’t recognize a concussion. To recover, the brain needs time to rest,” says Kevin Walter, MD, program director of pediatric and sports medicine at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and associate professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin. “Schools often have a plan of action for kids to be cleared for athletics, but not for academics. I encourage parents to communicate with the medical team and the school to ensure their child makes a gradual return to both schoolwork and sports. If you overstress the brain, the recovery time may be prolonged.”
Answer: All of the above

Your child has something in his eye. How do you get it out?

A Flush the eye with cool water
B Use a tissue to dab out the speck 
Use eye drops to dislodge the contaminant

Flush the eye for 10 minutes with cool water under the kitchen faucet, or use a gentle flow from the sink sprayer. “If your child rubbed his eye, he may have dragged the foreign object across the surface and scratched the cornea, which is painful and requires treatment,” says Pattavina. If he is still complaining after rinsing thoroughly, is sensitive to light or is having difficulty seeing, go to the ER.
Answer: A

Treat these beach injuries that can sideline your fun in the sun:

Puncture wound
When your kid steps on a piece of glass or shell, the wound may be deep but doesn’t bleed much. Still, there’s an increased risk of infection as the skin seals over the hole. Clean the surface with soap and water, go to the ER if you think something is embedded and watch for infection—some waterborne bacteria can cause serious illnesses.

Jellyfish sting
“Do not rub or scrape the area, which shears off the venomous barbs and releases more toxin,” says Rade Vukmir, MD, adjunct professor of emergency medicine at Temple University and spokesperson for ACEP. Instead, prevent venom injectors from discharging by immersing the area in warm water for 10 to 15 minutes or pouring plain vinegar over the injury. Forget folk remedies: Rinsing with seawater, applying ice and urinating on the sting may worsen the injury—and gross everyone out.


3 of 4

Burns and Cuts

first aid burn

Illustration by Julie Houts

Illustration by Julie Houts

Your teen was heating some food and burned her hand. What do you do?

A Hold the area under cold running water for a few minutes until it stops hurting
B Immediately apply an antibiotic cream.
C Run the burn under lukewarm water for about 20 minutes

Research says that warm water is more beneficial than cold, which can hinder circulation. “Warm water maintains good blood flow at the microscopic level and keeps cells and tissues alive after a burn,” says Canares. Because burns can evolve over the course of a few hours, if a blister lengthens or becomes wider than your index finger, seek medical care.
Answer: C

Your son was running in the house again and fell—and now has a bad cut. How do you know if he needs stitches?

A If the cut won’t stop bleeding after applying pressure
B If the wound is gaping open 
C If the laceration is on the face

If bleeding doesn’t stop after 5 to 10 minutes of nonstop moderate pressure (think of a firm handshake), he probably will need stitches. “Also true if a cut seems especially wide or deep or you can see something white, which could be tendon, ligament or  bone,” says Vukmir. “Significant lacerations on the face typically need to be treated by a doctor to minimize scarring.”
Answer: All of the above

Embedded splinters cause a surprising amount of discomfort. Most can be removed at home unless they’re near the eye or show signs of infection, such as pus, redness or warmth. Follow these DIY steps from Dara Kass, MD, spokesperson for the American College of Emergency Physicians.

  • Soak the area for a few minutes to soften skin. 
  • Sterilize a needle and tweezers with rubbing alcohol. 
  • Pierce the skin at one end of the splinter, then try to push or pull out the splinter with the needle or tweezers. (You can ease the pain by pinching the area around the splinter with your other hand.) 
  • Wash area with soap and water.
  • Apply a small amount of petroleum jelly or antibiotic ointment to the wound.

4 of 4

Teeth and Sprains

first aid tooth

Illustration by Julie Houts

Illustration by Julie Houts

Your son just knocked out a permanent tooth while horsing around with friends. What do you do first?

A Put it back into place as quickly as possible
B Submerge it in a glass of milk or saline solution
C Get to the dentist immediately 

Hold the tooth by the white part, rinse gently with cold water for 10 seconds and replace in the socket. Have your child hold it in place by biting on a washcloth. If he's freaking out, the next-best choice is to put the tooth in milk or saline to keep tissues moist. Then get to your dentist ASAP. “Chances are good that blood vessels will re-establish if a tooth is re-implanted within 30 minutes of the accident,” says Jim Nickman, DDS, president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. “But see your dentist even if a tooth is only chipped because the nerve may be affected.”
Answer: A and C (B, if necessary)

Your teen is limping after playing basketball. You think she’s sprained something—what do you do next?

A Let her shake it off and continue playing
B Apply ice for 10 to 20 minutes a few times a day 
C Give her over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen for pain

Sprains often can be treated at home. “Apply RICE: rest, ice, compression and elevation,” says Weiss. “But if an adolescent has a knee injury with swelling, there’s a chance it’s an ACL tear, which needs to be evaluated immediately.” A few other red flags indicate it’s possibly a break, not a sprain: a joint that looks deformed or won’t bend in the right direction, your kid refusing to bear weight on a foot 24 hours after an injury, pain on both the front and back sides of the wrist joint, or any joint injury that hasn’t improved after a week.
Answer: B and C

Is your kid stuck wearing a cast? Keep it in good shape for however long your child needs it with tips from Jennifer
Weiss, MD, spokesperson for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Keep it dry.
“Anytime a cast gets wet, you need a new one,” says Weiss. Purchase a cast cover so that showers are easier on everyone. A makeshift version with plastic bags and rubber bands isn’t good enough.

Control itchiness.
“Never let your child stick anything inside to scratch because the covered skin is sensitive and tears easily,” says Weiss. Oral antihistamines, such as Benadryl, can relieve itching, or try blowing with cool air from a hair dryer. 

Keep it clean.
Don’t let dirt or sand get in. And if the inside becomes smelly, which could be a sign of infection, call your doctor.