Stitched Wound, Infected (Child)

Some wounds become infected even when correctly cleaned at the time of repair. Certain things make an infection more likely to occur. These include:

  • Deep wound or puncture wound. These are harder to clean than shallower or wide-open wounds.

  • Dirty wound. This means that dirt or particles carried deep into the wound at the time of injury.

  • Wound caused by an animal bite

  • Some long-term (chronic) illnesses, such as diabetes or an immune disorder

  • Wound isn’t kept clean and dry at home

The infection may need to be treated with antibiotics. These are medicines that fight infection. Stitches or staples may or may not be removed at this time. It depends on the status of the wound healing and the severity of the infection.

Home care

Medicines

The healthcare provider may likely prescribe antibiotic medicine to treat the infection. This may be medicine your child takes by mouth (oral) or medicine you put on the wound (topical). Follow the provider’s instructions for using it. Don't stop giving your child this medicine until you've finished the prescribed course or the provider tells you to stop. If pain medicines are needed, give them to your child as directed by the provider. Don't give your child any over-the-counter medicines, including aspirin, that haven't been approved by your child’s provider.

General care

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

  • Wash your hands with soap and clean, running water before and after caring for your child. This helps prevent the spread of the infection.

  • Keep the wound clean and dry. If the wound becomes wet, pat it dry and replace the bandage.

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

  • Clean the wound daily. To do this, remove the bandage and gently wash the area with mild soap and clean, running water. Use a wet cotton swab to gently loosen and remove any blood or crust that forms. After cleaning, apply a thin layer of antibiotic ointment. Then apply a new bandage. 

  • The bandage can be removed when your child showers. But don't soak the area in water until the wound heals. This means not having tub baths and not swimming.

  • Tell your child not to scratch, rub, or pick at the area.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider, or as advised. It's important to keep your follow-up appointment to make sure that the infection is clearing.

When to get medical care

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

  • Fever doesn't go down within 24 hours of antibiotic use, or the fever gets worse

  • Pain gets worse

  • Wound becomes redder or more swollen, or has more pus or fluid leaking

  • Red streaks around the wound don't go away after 2 to 3 days of antibiotic use, or new streaks form

  • The infection doesn’t improve within 2 to 3 days of starting antibiotics

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