Bumps and bruises and splinters – oh my! It’s that time of year again! School started, the weather is getting cooler and kids are able to get outside for recess. In fact, when I ask my patients what their favorite subject in school is, “recess” is usually the answer. This is the time of year I start seeing an upswing in playground accidents. Here are some of the most common accidents I see and ways to treat them.
Splinters are common, even though most playground sets aren’t made of wood anymore. Kids are splinter magnets! The best way to handle a splinter is one you might not have heard of before. Try using sticky tape such as packing tape or duct tape. Wrap it over the splinter and slowly pull it off. Usually, the splinter easily comes out. If that doesn’t work, try working the splinter out (slowly and carefully) with sterilized tweezers or a needle. For those kiddos who are afraid of needles and tweezers, I find that taking the splinter out when they’re asleep is also an effective option. After the splinter is out, watch the area carefully for redness, streaks or swelling, which could all be signs of infection.
This is a fairly common issue with kids, so don’t panic if your baby comes home with a bloody nose. It’s usually easy to get under control. Sit them down and have them lean forward slightly – keeping the blood from running down the back of their throat. Using either a tissue or a warm washcloth. Pinch the soft part of their nose together. Wait a few minutes – five at the most – to see if bleeding has stopped. If it hasn’t, wait another 10 minutes and check again. Usually this works, but if the bleeding goes on for longer than an additional 15 minutes or if you’re noticing more than the usual amount of blood, seek medical attention.
Whether it’s blisters on hands or on feet because of new shoes, the most important thing you have to remember about this situation is have your child resist the urge to pop that blister. It’s there for a reason – to protect the tender new skin underneath the blister. Apply ointment to the blister and cover it with gauze (secured with hypoallergenic tape) and change the dressing every day until the blister goes away.
You’re probably a pro at managing cuts, but just in case, here’s some good information. For minor cuts, rinse them with water and apply a bandage until it scabs. Then the bandage can be removed. If the cut is more serious, rinse it with a mild soap and cool water for about five minutes, then apply an antibacterial ointment and bandage it up. Avoid using hydrogen peroxide or alcohol, because these can slow the healing process. If the cut is major, seek medical attention as soon as you can.
Jumping, twisting, running or falling all leave the door open for sprains – another common playground injury. If your child comes home with a sprain, remember the phrase RICE: Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevation. Have them stay off of, or stop using, the affected joint. Apply ice at 20-minute intervals. Wrap the injury with an elastic bandage and keep it elevated. They’ll be good as new in no time!
If you have questions or concerns about your child’s injury, don’t wait and don’t risk it – contact your pediatrician immediately.
Dr. Jessica Lanerie is a pediatrician at Kelsey-Seybold’s Sienna Plantation Clinic. After receiving her medical degree from Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Medicine in 2013, Dr. Lanerie completed a residency in Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine in 2016. Her clinical interests include weight management, asthma and eczema.