Hand and Finger Injuries in Children

March 21, 2019
Hand and finger injuries are especially common in children. Learn more about them and how to treat them in this article.

From the time we’re born, we’re curious to explore our surroundings. Children touch things and put them in their mouth because they’re experimenting with their tactile sensitivity. This is why they’re likely to suffer hand and finger injuries.

There’s a graphical representation of the body’s sensitivity called Penfield’s homunculi, first described by Dr. Penfield, a neurosurgeon who became famous in the mid-twentieth century for his work on brain areas. If you look at the drawing, you can see that the lips and hands are larger because they have a lot of sensory neurons. This is precisely why children are prone to touching everything and putting it in their mouth.

In addition, as children grow and start walking, they develop their balance system. Thus, when they fall down, they place their hands on the floor as a reflex to protect their head.

Hand and Finger Injuries in Children due to Accidents

Hand and finger injuries are quite common.

Unfortunately, homes are also filled with dangers children must avoid. Electrical burns and finger cuts are the most common accidents in the home. Therefore, it’s very important to know what the most common hand and finger injuries are and how to treat them to avoid complications.

This article may interest you: How to Resuscitate a Baby

The Most Common Hand and Finger Injuries

As we mentioned in the previous section, hand and finger injuries are extremely common in children. Here are some of the most common causes of these types of injuries:

  • Incised wounds (what we know as cuts): Children’s skin is very thin, so they may happen when they touch the edge of cans, cut themselves with tiny crystals on the floor, etc.
  • Contusions: These occur after drops and falls. They’re usually associated with hematomas and bruises. If the fall is severe, they can fracture their wrist or a finger.
  • Puncture wounds: These are the most difficult to treat, as wounds are deeper when an object penetrates the skin. This also increases the risk of infection. In this case, you must make sure that there are no traces of the foreign body in the tissue and you must clean the wound well.
  • Friction wounds: These are scratches that occur when the skin rubs against the ground in a fall. Knees tend to suffer from them the most, but they can also appear on the hands (when a child falls off a bike or in the schoolyard).

Discover: How to Cure Wounds to Prevent Scars

How to Treat Hand and Finger Injuries

Regardless of the type of wound, you have to follow a series of guidelines to avoid infection.

  1. First of all, you need to ensure that there are no traces of foreign bodies inside the skin and clean the area.
  2. The skin is full of tiny capillaries. So, even if the wound is very superficial, it may bleed a lot. Applying cold water or ice (preferably with gauze to prevent direct contact with the skin) constricts the vessels. In addition, cold helps reduce inflammation.
  3. Then, you have to disinfect the wound. Commercial solutions such as povidone-iodine or chlorhexidine are very effective. They also usually come in a spray.
  4. If the injury hasn’t healed at all or you’re dealing with a dirty and penetrating injury, we recommend that you take your child to the pediatrician and check their immunization record. Stitches may be necessary to avoid the risk of complications and promote healing.
  • Salem Z., C., Pérez P., J. A., Henning L., E., Uherek P., F., Schultz O., C., Butte B., J. M., & González F., P. (2000). Heridas: Conceptos generales. Cuadernos de Cirugía. https://doi.org/10.4206/cuad.cir.2000.v14n1-15
  • Ruiz, E. F. (2013). Antisépticos y desinfectantes. Enfermedades Infecciosas y Microbiologia. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00299-010-0857-1
  • Santos Heredero, F. X., Rodríguez Arias, C. A., Barberán López, J., Martín Antona, E., Pérez del Caz, M. D., Torres García, A., … Viadé Juliá, J. (2014). Heridas y Cicatrización. Revista de La Sociedad Española de Heridas.