There is a lot of swordplay in our house. I mean a lot. And wrestling, and karate. And similar to the old adage, “where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” (I love that one!), where there’s physical play and roughhousing, there are scraped knees and elbows. Couple being eight years old with the weather of Spring — it’s gorgeous out! — and you’ve doubled the chances for bruises and abrasions by, say, a factor of skateboarding, biking, soccer, ferocious tag games and tree-climbing.
So what do you do with the cuts and abrasions, bumps and bruises? One blog doesn’t cover every eventuality, so we’re starting a natural first aid series, beginning with cuts and abrasions. Here are Mommy’s ER’s favorite remedies, starting with the simplest and working our way up to DIY mama extraordinaire’s homemade healing balms (in our blog this upcoming Friday) — I fall anywhere along this spectrum on a given day, so this mama likes to have options:
Before we begin, lets talk when to go to the doc and when you can treat this safely at home. Hit the urgent care if the wound is deep (this can use a deeper washing out than at home to avoid healing over bacteria), if the wound was inflicted by rusty metal (we don’t want to mess with tetanus), or is bleeding profusely, or doesn’t stop bleeding after 10 minutes. If the wound is wide, or deep enough that you can see the yellowish fatty tissue underneath the skin, it could benefit from stitches. Also, if over time the cut becomes yellow and pus-y, or the wound doesn’t do most its healing work in the space of a week, it’s time to go in.
- Wash with Soap and water. Don’t skip this step. Really, Aidan. Especially if we’re talking about anything that has scraped the skin, you want to make sure that any measures you take after this are not healing over unwanted germs. Clean it gently, but thoroughly.
- Once the wound has been cleaned, it’s time for an antiseptic. Witch hazel is still my fave, because it is antimicrobial, effective, and actually soothes inflammation, pain and burning while it disinfects. You can mix it with equal parts rubbing alcohol, or apply by itself. Hydrogen peroxide is still a legit alternative. So is vinegar. Vinegar diluted in water, then placed on a cotton ball is a GREAT natural antiseptic. You can use apple cider vinegar or white vinegar with 1 part vinegar to 3-5 parts water.
- Apply healing salve. What you’re looking for here is something with disinfecting properties, and, ideally moisturizing and skin nourishing as well. We’re busy brewing up batches of our 3 favorite salves for Recipe Friday, but in a pinch, here is my list of miracle salves that stand alone:
* Honey: I’ve advocated for honey on various occasions, for everything from colds to sore throats, but never have I been more impressed with it than I am when it comes to topically using honey for cuts and abrasions. We’re apparently going way back to ancient Egypt on this one. Honey has been used by everyone from pharoahs to our grandmothers for scrapes and skin ulcers. Now, modern science supports its usage as an antibacterial and antiseptic for even antibiotic-resistant wound treatment. Honey contains hydrogen peroxide, which it releases slowly into the cut or abrasion, creating a strong germ-killing effect. The viscose nature of honey also forms a natural barrier, and helps prevent scarring. Honey even works against antibiotic-resistant bacterias like mrsa. WIth additional anti-inflammatory effects, and the capacity to
promote healthy tissue growth, honey deserves a blog in its own right. Not all honeys are created equal, however. If you’re getting serious about your natural medicine cabinet, order honey made from the pollen from the flower of the tea tree bush, or manuka plant for extra nutrient content and antibacterial properties.
* Lavender: antibacterial and antiseptic, lavender is purported to even aid in cell regeneration and enhance the pace of blood clotting. For easy application, add 3-4 drops of lavender essential oil to a piece of gauze and place it over wound, 2-3 times per day.
* Coconut oil: contains lauric acid, capryllic acid, and medium chain fatty acids that kill bacteria, fungi and viruses.Apply it topically (and feel free to use it internally when cooking up Indian food!)
* Tea tree oil: tea tree oil, used externally, is an amazing antiseptic and antimicrobial. It contains a compound called terpenoids, which may be responsible for its bacteria, fungus, and virus-killing capabilities. You can apply 2-4 drops directly to a gauze and place the gauze over the wound, or to minimize any skin sensitivities (essential oils, and tea tree in particular, is strong stuff!), mix 3-6 drops of tea tree in two teaspoons of vegetable oil (almond oil and coconut oil are great here, but your kitchen olive oil also does the trick) and apply directly. Or even mix it with vodka! — 2 parts tea tree to 1 part alcohol. Tea tree oil is also purported to have pain-killing effects. Let your little one be the judge of this. (note: tea tree oil, along with all of these suggestions, are for external use only. That said, feel free to eat the honey and coconut oil…)
Mama Nature, thank you for these, on behalf of little knees everywhere. 🙂