Myth Busting - Adults can't put plasters on children's cuts!!

We've often heard of teachers, volunteers and carers being told to ask parents for permission, or even requiring parents to drive over and put the plaster on themselves. This persistent myth causes a lot of unnecessary hassle and worry.

There is no rule that says a responsible adult can't put a plaster on a child's minor cut. 

Some children do have an allergy to normal plasters. If you know a child is allergic you can use the hypo-allergenic type of plaster. 

The important thing is to clean and cover the cut to stop it getting infected.

Reference: http://www.hse.gov.uk/myth/jun08.htm

More background information:

The rumour was first noted in a 1994 issue of the Medical Indemnity Register (MIR) newsletter.  The MIR provides insurance for first aiders and first aid instructors from many diverse organisations and members were concerned that a new rule existed stating that "staff must not put plasters on cuts or grazes if the casualty is a child". Neither the Health and Safety Executive nor the Association of Teachers and Lecturers knew anything about it. 

The MIR asked members to try to locate the source of the rumour and later in 1004, following letters from many readers the consensus of opinion was that the rumour originated from someone within the UK social services arena and was introduced to avoid problems should the child be allergic to the plaster.  Another reader said that he had seen an unsigned memo from a social services departement in London stating that "Putting plasters on a child was abuse under the Children's Act".  This had been picked up by a large amateur first aid training body and had gone around the coutry like a 'Chinese whisper'.

The MIR recommends the following procedure for a cut or graze on either a child or adult:

Rinse the affected area in cool water

  • Dry off the wound and apply a sterile, individually wrapped dressing.
  • Should the child be allergic to standard plasters then the parent or guardian should provide hypoallergenic plasters which can be easily obtained from a chemist.

It may be the case that the parent or guardian is unaware of any allergy. Should this be the case and a standard plaster is applied the worst that will happen is the appearance of a short-term rash in the area of the wound.

Conversely, failure to treat a simple cut by recognised methods could easily be construed as a failure in duty of care!