How to Manage Skinned Knees

Shane learned how to ride his bike with no hands a couple weeks ago. Needless to say, I am rifling through bandaids. My kids also bring home any of their friends who take a summer spill, so we have a little specialty clinic set up for skinned knees and elbows.

How to Manage a Skinned Knee or Elbow:

  1. Wash your hands. Assess the damage. Take a deep breath, clean up any dripping blood with something clean. Once you know it is not a deep wound, proceed as follows.
  2. Stop the bleeding by holding pressure.
  3. Rinse the cut in running cool/warm water to clear out any dirt. I usually sit my kids next the sink and let them do this at their own pace, because it helps to minimize the hysteria.
  4. Pour hydrogen peroxide over the cut and get ready for the scream. It is more the white stuff that bubbles up than the pain that creates the panic. Just do it. An infection will hurt way more than prevention.
  5. Dry the area around the scrapes and let the cut itself air dry.
  6. Apply neosporin with a Q-tip or a clean finger. Cover with a bandaid or soft gauze if the area is large. Then, wipe the tears and tell them to get right back on their bike

True skinned knees and elbows shouldn’t scar. The body is remarkable at healing even nasty looking injuries. Changing the dressing and applying an antibiotic cream will help the healing along.

** Addendum: I had a comment on FB from a nurse who said she only uses soap, not hydrogen peroxide (I knew she was in the medical field because she called it H2O2.) She says H2O2 is harsh and can destroy the healthy cells underneath. Thanks for the update!! Also, it led me to add that for most skinned knees and elbows, the running water should do the trick if your child really cannot handle the stinging associated with any kind of soap or disinfecting product. Just make sure you run the water on the wound for at least five minutes.


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Author: Karen Latimer

Dr. Latimer is a Family Physician and Wellness & Parenting Coach. She works with parents who want to feel more confident when helping their children and coaches young adults to help them better navigate college life and transitions. Contact her at to learn more. She is the author of two Audible Originals, Take Back the House -- Raising Happy Parents and Worry Less, Parent Better. She is also the co-founder of the app that makes your life easier and puts social in a healthier place -- List'm.


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