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

  • Being resistant to infection, such as from 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, depending 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 have 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 have not been approved by your child’s healthcare 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 warm 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. However, the area should not be soaked in water until the wound heals. This means avoiding tub baths and 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 be sure that the infection is clearing.

When to seek medical advice

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

  • Fever does not go down within 24 hours of antibiotic use or gets worse

  • Pain gets worse

  • Wound becomes redder or more swollen, or has more pus or drainage

  • Red streaks around the wound do not 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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