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Archive for September, 2017

Does My Child Need Stitches?

Does My Child Need StitchesEvery time you hear that tell-tale cry of your child tripping and falling or getting hurt, there’s a moment of panic before you’re able to actually know how severe or minor the injury is. With cuts or lacerations in kids, it’s helpful that the damage is on the surface so it’s fairly easy to assess your child’s injury. Still, it can be a challenge to know where the line is between a minor scrape you can treat at home and a more substantial cut that needs medical attention. At Children’s Wellness Center, our pediatric nurse practitioner and board-certified pediatricians are here to offer a little advice.

How to Know if a Cut Needs Stitches

The majority of kids’ cuts and scrapes are minor enough to be treated at home, but some do need stitches or other types of medical care in order to heal properly and avoid a potentially serious infection. Here are a few indicators that a cut may need stitches:

  • The cut goes all the way through the skin
  • The cut is gaping (meaning that the sides are pulling away from each other, showing dark red or yellowish tissue beneath, rather than lying flat). Particularly, be sure to get medical care for a cut that is both gaping and longer than ½ inch in length.
  • The cut won’t stop bleeding after a full ten minutes of applying pressure.

What to Expect if Your Child Needs Stitches

In this day and age, there are actually a number of ways to treat a cut for kids in a medically safe and sterile way. Traditional stitches are still used in some cases (especially if the cut or laceration is in an area where there is a lot of tension and movement in the skin), and may or may not be absorbable. If your child’s stitches are not absorbable, the doctor will tell you when you should have them removed. This will vary based on the type and location of the wound. However, our providers at Children’s Wellness Center can remove stitches so that you don’t need to return to the emergency room.

For wounds in the scalp, staples are generally used instead of stitches. Another highly popular option, though, is medical glue. Since its approval in 1998, medical glue has been used successfully for straight cuts because it’s done in a quick and painless procedure. However, this specialized glue cannot be used for wounds in areas where muscle usage will create tension in the skin, so physicians are very selective in deciding when it is an appropriate option.

Steri-strips are an option that is essentially halfway in between medical glue and stitches. Sometimes called “butterfly” bandages, steri-strips are small pieces of medical-grade adhesives that are placed across a cut (criss-crossing the cut like a “t”) to hold the edges of skin together. This allows the cut to heal more smoothly while keeping dirt out to avoid infections in kids. While they can apply a bit of tension for gaping cuts (unlike medical glue), steri-strips are not as secure as stitches and typically aren’t used in highly mobile areas of the body, like the knees and elbows.

If your child gets a cut that you believe may require stitches, bring your child to a nearby emergency room or urgent care clinic, such as those provided by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. The providers will be able to identify the best way to treat your child’s cut and safely and swiftly. Please remember that while we offer a wide variety of services at Children’s Wellness Center, we do not have the equipment necessary to provide stitches or other emergency treatments for kids, so please seek a form of urgent care regardless of whether or not the injury occurs during our regular business hours.

How to Treat Minor Cuts at Home

If your child’s laceration doesn’t look severe enough to need stitches, there are a few simple steps you can follow at home to prevent infection and help your child heal:

  1. Examine the wound for any materials. If the object that caused the cut (like a nail) is still in place, apply pressure and seek medical care (which may include a tetanus shot depending on the object that caused the cut) – do not try to remove the object on your own.
  2. Clean the wound carefully by flushing it with cool water. Make sure your hands are clean first, and then ensure that you get all dirt and debris out of the cut. Wash the area around the wound with mild soap and water to clear away any nearby bacteria.
  3. Cover the wound with dry gauze (or a clean towel if you don’t have gauze available) and apply pressure for 5-10 minutes to stop the bleeding. If blood soaks through the gauze or towel, simply place a new piece on top of it rather than removing the piece that’s already in place.
  4. After the bleeding has stopped, apply an antibacterial ointment and a dry, clean bandage. Some cuts, like those in areas that are unlikely to get dirty, can be left to heal in the open air, although you should still apply antibacterial ointment.

As a parent, there’s nothing that can fully take away the worry and heartbreak you feel when your child gets hurt. Still, being knowledgeable about how to handle these situations can certainly help to put your mind at ease and give you guidance in an emergency. When it comes to keeping your kids safe and healthy during all those non-emergency times, our providers at Children’s Wellness Center are honored to provide the top-notch care your family deserves. Give us a call to schedule an appointment at Children’s Wellness Center, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for all our latest blogs and other helpful health tips for kids.

Is it Strep Throat or Just a Cold?

Is it Strep Throat or Just a ColdNo parent wants to see their child sick, but the closer we get to winter, the more frequent those illnesses will become. One very common symptom that we expect to see often at Children’s Wellness Center is a sore throat. Because parents know that one particular type of sore throat (called strep throat) can become serious, this is their first worry when their kids start complaining of a sore throat. So how do you know if your child might have strep throat? Our board-certified pediatricians and pediatric nurse practitioners are here to help with a few tips.

Strep throat is an illness caused by a specific type of bacteria. A sore throat is a common symptom in many types of colds and other illnesses as well as strep throat, but the difference is in the other symptoms that can accompany it. On top of a sore throat, strep throat often causes a fever, loss of appetite (the primary symptom in most cases), a stomach ache, and vomiting. Kids with strep throat can also have spots of pus on their tonsils. However, if your child has other symptoms, like a cough, a runny nose, or diarrhea, it’s likely that they don’t have strep throat but that they have another type of illness instead, like a viral cold or flu.

While guidelines like this list of symptoms can help, remember that any time your child has a persistent sore throat, you should schedule an appointment at Children’s Wellness Center. This is true regardless of whether or not you suspect strep throat, because we may be able to help kids recover from other illnesses more quickly as well. If our providers believe your child may have strep throat, they will perform a quick in-office test. It’s important to find out whether your child truly has strep throat before receiving treatment (and not to attempt to self-diagnose and treat your child), because strep throat requires antibiotics while other causes of sore throats generally should not be treated with antibiotics. If left untreated, strep throat can advance into rheumatic fever, so getting your child treatment can help them heal before their symptoms worsen.

If your child is indeed diagnosed with strep throat, we will generally prescribe an antibiotic to fight the strep bacteria. Be sure to follow all of the instructions about how and when to give your child the medication. While many kids start to feel better before their antibiotics are finished, it’s very important to continue giving your child the medicine until the full prescription has been used. This ensures that all the bacteria is truly gone. In order to keep the strep from continuing to spread, you should also keep your child home from school, day care, and other activities until the fever is gone and they have been on antibiotics for at least 24 hours.

Ultimately, the bottom line is this: when in doubt, schedule an appointment with a pediatrician or nurse practitioner at Children’s Wellness Center. Using the wrong medication can be ineffective and can also cause unintended side effects. If your child has a sustained sore throat or any other persistent symptom, our providers are here to provide them with the same expert care and warm welcome that they would give their own families.

Parent Health Information: Childhood Allergies

Now that September has begun, fall allergy season is well underway in the Atlanta area, and so many of us are suffering from hay fever. For some parents, childhood allergies are easy to spot (especially seasonal ones), but others may think their kids’ symptoms are from a cold. Some allergies, on the other hand, cause symptoms that are not at all respiratory. While most people think of allergies as nothing but a mild inconvenience, they can escalate and create serious problems. As a parent, catching your child’s allergies at a young age (or whenever they arise) and learning how to control them can be instrumental in keeping your kids safe, healthy, and comfortable all year long. In order to help with that task, our board-certified pediatricians and nurse practitioners at Children’s Wellness Center have created the infographic below, packed with all the helpful information parents want to know about allergies and allergic asthma in kids.

08.28.17 Parent Health Information Childhood Allergies

As a parent, education is your best defense against a number of childhood illnesses because it will help you know what warning signs to look for and what to do if they appear. Ultimately, it’s better to stay on the safe side and contact Children’s Wellness Center for an appointment if you have any concerns about your child’s health. As an added bonus, be sure to follow Children’s Wellness Center on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for more helpful health tips for parents.

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