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Wound (Skin) Infection: Brief Version


What is a wound infection?

When bacteria gets into a cut or wound, your child may get a skin infection. You may notice your child has:

  • Pus or cloudy fluid from the wound.
  • A pimple or yellow crust on the wound.
  • A lot of redness around the cut.
  • A red streak from the wound toward the heart.
  • A large, tender lymph node in the area.
  • A fever.

How can I take care of my child?

  • Give antibiotics. Your child needs the medicine prescribed by your doctor.
  • Soak the wound in warm water. This cleans it out and helps it heal. Make a warm saltwater bath. Put in 2 teaspoons of table salt for each quart of water. Soak your child's cut in the water for 20 minutes 3 times a day. You can also use a wash cloth soaked in the salt water on the cut. Put on a clean bandage after each soak.

    If the wound has stitches, keep it dry for the first 24 hours. Wash once a day with soap and water, but do not soak the wound until the stitches are taken out.

  • Use heat. If your child's wound is closed, put a heating pad or warm, wet washcloth on the red area. Do this for 20 minutes 3 times a day.
  • Give fever and pain medicine. Give your child acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) if there is pain or fever. No aspirin.

Call your child's doctor right away if:

  • The redness from the wound spreads.
  • The wound gets very painful.
  • Your child starts to act very sick.

Call your child's doctor during office hours if:

  • Your child's fever is not gone after 48 hours on the medicine.
  • The wound does not look better after 3 days on the medicine.
  • The wound isn't fully healed in 10 days.
  • You have other questions or concerns.

Written by B.D. Schmitt, MD, author of "Your Child's Health," Bantam Books.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2009-11-23
Last reviewed: 2010-06-02

This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a health care professional.

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