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Helping the people of Leicester to have long and healthy lives.

Leicester City Clinical Commissioning Group

Children: Accidents

Children can, unfortunately, be accident-prone. Burns, scalds, bumps and scrapes are quite common. For cuts, scrapes and breaks, painkillers can help – like paracetamol or ibuprofen. Don’t worry that you will “hide” a serious injury by giving painkillers. All you will do is make your child more comfortable.


Run it under cool running water for 20 minutes. Do not use ice, iced water, or any creams or greasy substances like butter.

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  • remove any clothing or jewellery that’s near the burnt area of skin, including babies’ nappies, but do not move anything that’s stuck to the skin
  • keep the child warm by using a blanket, for example, but take care not to rub it against the burnt area
  • cover the burn by placing a layer of cling film over it – a clean plastic bag could also be used for burns on your hand
  • use painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to treat any pain. Never give aspirin to children under 16.
  • if the face or eyes are burnt, sit up as much as possible, rather than lying down – this helps to reduce swelling
  • if it’s an acid or chemical burn, dial 999, carefully try to remove the chemical and any contaminated clothing, and rinse the affected area using as much clean water as possible

When to seek medical advice:

Seek medical advice for any burn if the child is under 5.

Go to A&E for children of all ages with the following types of burn:

  • all chemical and electrical burns
  • large or deep burns – any burn bigger than the injured person’s hand
  • burns that cause white or charred skin – any size
  • burns on the face, hands, arms, feet, legs or genitals that cause blisters

Related content

More detailed advice on burns and scalds.

Cuts and grazes

Most cuts and grazes can be easily treated at home.

Stopping the bleeding, cleaning the wound thoroughly and covering it with a plaster or dressing is usually all that’s needed. Minor wounds should start to heal within a few days.

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When to seek medical advice:

If there’s a risk the wound could become infected, or you think it’s already infected, call 111 or speak to your GP practice.

Go to A&E if:

  • you can’t stop the bleeding
  • your child can’t feel anything near the wound or is having trouble moving any body parts
  • your child has a severe cut on their face – they may need urgent treatment to prevent scarring
  • the cut is on the palm of the hand and it looks infected – these infections can spread quickly
  • you think that a foreign body is still inside the wound
  • the wound is very large or the injury has caused a lot of tissue damage

Related content

More detailed advice on cuts and grazes

Broken bones

You should seek medical help as soon as possible if you think you’ve broken a bone.

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Signs that the bone might be broken are:

  • bruising or tenderness around the injured area
  • your child may feel pain when they put weight on the injury, touch it, press it, or move it
  • the injured part may look deformed
  • your child may feel faint, dizzy or sick as a result of the shock of breaking a bone.

If the break is small or it’s just a crack, it might be difficult to tell if the bone is actually broken.

You should seek medical help as soon as possible if you think you’ve broken a bone.

  • If it’s a toe or finger, you can call NHS 111 for advice.
  • For a broken arm or leg go to your nearest A&E .
  • Call 999 for an ambulance if the injury to the leg seems severe or you’re not able to get to A&E quickly.
  • Always call 999 for very severe suspected breaks, such as a broken neck or back.
  • Don’t let your child eat or drink anything if you think they’ve broken a bone, as they may need a general anaesthetic to allow doctors to realign it.

Related content

More detailed advice on broken bones.

Head injuries

Most head injuries are not serious. Your child will not usually need to go to hospital and should make a full recovery within 2 weeks. It’s normal to have symptoms such as a slight headache, or feeling sick or dazed.

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  • Hold an ice pack (or a bag of frozen peas in a tea towel) to the injury for short periods to help reduce swelling
  • rest and avoid stress
  • take paracetamol or ibuprofen (not aspirin) to relieve pain or a headache
  • make sure an adult stays with your child for at least the first 24 hours
  • keep them off school until they’re feeling better
  • don’t allow rough play for a few days

Contact your GP practice if your child’s symptoms last more than 2 weeks

Go to A&E if your child has:

  • been knocked out but has now woken up
  • been vomiting since the injury
  • a headache that does not go away with painkillers
  • a change in behaviour, like being more irritable
  • problems with memory
  • a blood clotting disorder (like haemophilia)
  • had brain surgery in the past

Call 999 after a head injury if your child has:

  • been knocked out and has not woken up
  • difficulty staying awake or keeping their eyes open
  • a fit (seizure)
  • problems with their vision
  • clear fluid coming from their ears or nose
  • bleeding from their ears or bruising behind their ears
  • numbness or weakness in part of their body
  • problems with walking, balance, understanding or speaking
  • hit their head in a serious accident, such as a car crash

Related content

More detailed advice on head injuries.