2Bumps, bruises and signs of abuse

When children fall over or knock themselves against something, they might get a bump or a bruiseMiss_Bump

Bruising is very common in children and not usually dangerous.

For toddlers, walking is especially clumsy and taking a tumble is very common.




 Sports and rough and tumble


For older children, sports and rough play often results in bumps and bruises.

Bruising happens when blood vessels are damaged and bleed under the skin. Bumps happen when skin tissue swells after being hit.

These minor injuries are usually easily treated.



Foot_Ice_packTreatment for bruising and bumps

  • Immediately apply ice packs to the injured area for 10 minutes – this can help ease the bruising and any pain.
  • Bruises take 7-10 days to disappear, changing colour as they heal.  Bruises can be blue, red, purple, yellow, brown, or black.
  • If possible, elevate the bruised area so that it is higher than the heart. This keeps blood from “pooling” in the affected area (and thus creating more internal bleeding and swelling).
  • Keep the bruise elevated for approximately 15 minutes if the wound is minor. If the bruise is severe and it covers a large portion of the body, seek medical help.
  • If a bumps continues to swell and is very painful or disfiguring, seek medical attention.

When to see the doctor

Any bumps or bruising that can’t be explained by the normal activities of children should be looked at by your doctor.

In very rare cases, bruising is because of an underlying blood disorder, such as a deficiency in the clotting mechanism. You might want to see a doctor if a child seems to bruise more readily than other children, has bruises all over her body, or if they have a family history of blood disorders.


Humpty_DumptyUnexplained bruises and bumps

While most bumps and bruises come as a result of normal childhood activity, it is important to notice if a child has constant new bruises or injuries that can’t be explained.

These bumps and bruises could be the result of clumsiness or, more seriously, the physical or sexual abuse of a child.

If you suspect abuse, it is important that you discuss the details of reporting your concerns with local law enforcement for the safety of the child.

Child abuse, domestic violence and mandatory reporting

Most countries are very supportive of the need to report domestic violence and child abuse and there is a multitude of organisations set up to protect both children and adults suffering from abuse. If you suspect that a child you care for is the victim of any form of abuse, you need to report it to appropriate authorities Abuse can occur in the forms of physical violence, emotional maltreatment, inappropriate sexual behaviour, or neglect.

Signs of abuse include:

  • Physical: Bruising or other suspicious injuries or burns, repeated unexplained injuries, nervousness or flinching from the child
  • Emotional: Isolation or withdrawal, lack of ability to trust adults, extreme passivity or aggression with others, fear and anxiety
  • Sexual: Uncomfortable walking or sitting, does not want to undress near others, inappropriate sexualised behaviour or references to sex that aren’t age appropriate
  • Neglect: poor hygiene, dirty clothes, hunger, dressed inappropriately for the weather, frequent lack of supervision from adults, inappropriate bedroom / home setting (no designated place to sleep or play), filthy living conditions.

Click here for more information on how to report child abuse: