A break in the skin shows signs of infection, such as:
- Pus or cloudy fluid is draining from the wound
- A pimple or yellow crust has formed on the wound (impetigo)
- The scab has increased in size
- Increasing redness occurs around the wound (cellulitis)
- A red streak is spreading from the wound toward the heart (lymphangitis)
- The wound has become extremely tender
- Pain or swelling has increased 48 hours after the wound occurred
- The lymph node draining that area of skin may become large and tender
- Your child may develop a fever
- The wound hasn’t healed within 10 days after the injury
See More Appropriate Topic
- If your child has stitches that are not infected, see Suture Questions
Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If
- Your child looks or acts very sick
- Fever occurs
- Red streak runs from the wound
- Increasing redness around the wound
- Severe pain in the wound
- Face wound with signs of infection
Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 and 4) If
- You think your child needs to be seen
- Pus or cloudy drainage from the wound
- There is a pimple where a stitch comes through the skin
- Wound becomes more tender after the 2nd day
Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If
- You have other questions or concerns
Parent Care at Home If
- Wound doesn’t look infected and you don’t think your child needs to be seen
Home Care Advice for Mild Redness of Wound
- Warm Soaks or Local Heat: If the wound is open, soak it in warm water or put a warm wet cloth on the wound for 20 minutes 3 times per day. Use a warm saltwater solution containing 2 teaspoons of table salt per quart of water. If the wound is closed, apply a heating pad or warm, moist washcloth to the reddened area for 20 minutes 3 times per day.
- Antibiotic Ointment: Apply an antibiotic ointment 3 times a day. If the area could become dirty, cover with a Band-Aid.
- Pain Medicine: For pain relief, give acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
- Expected Course: Pain and swelling normally peak on day 2. Any redness should go away by day 3 or 4. Complete healing should occur by day 10.
- Contagiousness: For true wound infections, your child can return to day care or school after the fever is gone and your child has received antibiotics for 24 hours.
- Call Your Doctor If
- Wound becomes more tender
- Redness starts to spread
- Pus, drainage or fever occurs
- your child becomes worse or develops any of the “Call Your Doctor Now” symptoms