Laceration, Infected Repair (Child)  

A laceration is a cut through the skin. Your child's cut has been closed (repaired) with stitches (sutures). But the cut has become infected. Things that make infection more likely include:

  • The wound was deep or a puncture wound. These are more likely to get infected than shallow or wide-open wounds that are easier to clean.

  • Dirt or particles were deep into the wound at the time of injury.

  • Your child has a problem that affects their immune system, such as diabetes or HIV infection, or another condition.

  • Home care for the laceration was not followed carefully. But even with good care, a wound can become infected.

Treatment of an infected repair may require removal of some or all of the stitches. Antibiotic medicine taken by mouth as a liquid or pill may be prescribed to treat the infection.

Home care

  • If antibiotics have been prescribed, give them to your child them exactly as directed. Your child should take them until they are gone or the healthcare provider tells you to stop them, even if your child feels better. 

  • If your child has pain, give him or her pain medicine as advised by your child’s provider. Don’t give your child aspirin unless told to do so. 

  • Don’t give your child any other medicine without first asking the provider.

  • Follow the provider’s instructions on how to care for the cut.

  • Unless otherwise instructed, change the bandage twice a day for the first few days, until the drainage stops. Then change it once a day. Change the bandage if it becomes wet, stained with wound fluid, or dirty.

  • Clean the wound daily:

    • After removing the bandage, gently wash the area with soap and water. Use a wet cotton swab to loosen and remove any blood or crust that forms.

    • After cleaning, apply a thin layer of over-the-counter antibiotic ointment, if advised. Reapply a fresh bandage.

    • Wash your hands with soap and warm water before and after cleaning the wound or changing the bandage.

    • Explain to your child in an age-appropriate way what you are doing as you care for the wound. Let your child help when possible. For example, let him or her hand you the towel or pat the wound dry. 

  • Follow the healthcare provider's instructions for keeping the wound dry. Your child may be restricted from showering or tub baths.

  • If the bandage gets wet, remove it. Gently pat the wound dry with a clean cloth, then replace the wet bandage with a dry one.

  • Keep your child from scratching, rubbing, or picking at the area.

Follow-up care

Follow up with the child's healthcare provider, or as advised. It is important to follow up to ensure that the infection is improving.

When to get medical advice

Call your child's healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Symptoms don't begin to improve or symptoms get worse

  • Red streaks are coming from the wound

  • Increase in pus comes from the wound

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider

  • Chills

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