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Kids are bound to injure themselves at some point or another. Sometimes it’s a broken bone after taking a hard fall, and other times it’s nothing more than a bruise while messing around with their friends. But every now and again a child can cut themselves and believe it to be “no big deal.” Usually, that is the case, unless the wound becomes infected. This is something a parent should keep a close eye on because when a cut or scrape becomes infected, it can lead to much more serious health problems that no parent wants for their child. Knowing the signs of an infected cut and how your child may act when having one is crucial so you can get it treated as quickly as possible before it gets worse.
Most people believe wounds are only caused by accidents, but the truth is anything that breaks the skin is considered to be a laceration because when the skin is broken, there is a risk of germs getting into the body and causing an infection. Skin is the body’s largest organ and helps protect it from bacteria, fungi, and viruses that live on its surface. Depending on the wound’s cleanness, depth, and size, will tell you how much care it needs.
Your healthcare provider will examine the wound and from there decide how they will go about treating it and the wound’s risk of infection. Clean wounds that aren’t contaminated with bacteria have the lowest risk of infection, making them much simpler to care for. Dirty or infected wounds, like an abscess, a deep scrape, or a cut, are a different story. These cuts need special treatment and monitoring to prevent infection. There are times when a wound is clean but there’s a risk of infection because of where it is located. Fluids and other contaminants may get into a wound that’s in an area with more bacteria such as the urinary tract, gastrointestinal system, or respiratory system. Dirt or a foreign object in the wound also can increase the risk of infection.
An infected wound typically gets worse instead of better. Any pain, redness, and swelling will usually increase in intensity making it obvious that the cut needs medical attention. In many ways, this is a good thing that the signs of infection are readily apparent. The first thing you should do with most small cuts and bruises is to apply first-aid. After doing this, monitor the wound for any of the following signs.
If the cut has scabbed over, but the scab keeps on growing, this could be a sign of infection underneath the top-layer skin.
Monitor the cut and speak to your child about what they are feeling. It’s important to make sure that the pain and swelling don’t keep increasing up to 48 hours after the initial injury.
If your child develops a headache or fever, you should take your little one to an urgent care facility for medical treatment. Rest assured, the experts at Chai Care will gladly help!
Most small to medium-sized wounds should heal within ten days. If this is not the case, visit your child’s healthcare provider for further examination.
Increased redness in the region is also a sign of infection. One of the most dangerous signs of infection is the presence of redness that appears to be tracing a path to your child’s heart. This must be treated as soon as possible.
Pay attention to discoloration, such as pus and fluid emerging from the wound.
When the wound is clean, your healthcare provider will close it by stitching the edges together in two separate layers. They will use dissolvable stitches to bring together the deeper layer of tissue under the skin. Then they will staple, tape, or stitch the skin over it. It’s important to note that healthcare experts don’t always close a wound right away. If there’s a chance a wound is contaminated, they will leave it open to clean it out, let’s say in the case that the wound is due to an animal bite. Closing an infected cut can trap bacteria inside which would lead to infection. When they’re sure no bacteria or other impurities remain, they will stitch or close the wound.
Sometimes, it’s best not to sew up a wound at all. If someone has lost a lot of tissues, it’s often beneficial to leave the wound open to heal through natural scar formation. Your child’s provider will also ask about their tetanus vaccine status, to make sure it’s up to date.
Before healing begins, the body gears up to defend itself against any infections. For the first couple of days, a wound may be swollen, red, and painful. This inflammation is a sign of the body’s immune system kicking in to protect the wound from infection. It is important to always keep the wound clean and dry to help the healing process. As the body does its self-healing, a scab begins to form over the wound on the outside. The scab’s job is to protect the wound as the damaged skin heals underneath. Underneath the scab’s defensive surface, new tissue begins to form.
Once the healing is finished, the scab dries up and falls off, leaving behind the repaired skin and a scar. The scar will be roughly 85% of the strength of normal skin and it will take a few months for the scar to be back to 100% strength of normal skin.
Serious wounds won’t heal overnight. It can take weeks for the body to build new tissue which makes at-home care important to prevent infection and minimize scarring. Make sure to keep the wound covered with a clean dressing until there’s no fluid draining from it. Your child’s healthcare provider will give you instructions on how to change the dressing and how often. It’s important to avoid getting the wound wet until further examination. Dirt in the water could seep into the wound and contaminate it. Also, there’s a risk that a wound might pull apart if it gets too wet. Lastly, make sure your son or daughter doesn’t pick or scratch the scab. A scab may itch as the skin underneath heals, but picking or scratching can rip the new skin underneath which will not only increase the healing time but will always make the scar worse.
The best way to help your child is to prevent an infection from ever happening. Any time your son or daughter gets a cut or scrap, the first step is to clean out the injury. Clean the wound with warm water for five minutes, then wash the surrounding area with soap. If there is still debris like glass or dirt in the wound, remove it, but be gentle and avoid pushing down so you don’t push it deeper into the cut. If you can’t remove all the debris or if you don’t feel comfortable trying to remove it yourself, go to an urgent care facility and the staff will do it for you.
Cuts and scrapes are extremely common among children which makes understanding the signs and symptoms of an infected wound so important. Even though infected wounds can have serious consequences, chances are the cut will heal itself on its own or your child’s healthcare provider will supply them with the proper treatment and medication, preventing a dangerous outcome. If the wound does not seem to be healing at home, take your little one to Chai Care and our trained experts will supply them with the care they need!
* Legal disclaimer: The content of this article and the entire Chai Care blog is for educational purposes only; it does NOT constitute medical advice and must not be considered as such. Please consult a medical professional regarding any symptoms or health concerns you or your loved ones.Dec 15, 2022
It is no secret that children are the most vulnerable people on the planet. Because of their youth and lack of experience, our moral responsibility as adults is to make sure that we are well-informed about various medical emergencies. We can almost expect that there will come a time when we will need to see the signs or symptoms of any minor or serious injuries that a child may experience. Of course, a medical professional will be the one who calls the final shots. However, before seeing a healthcare provider, you, as the parent, will be the one to notice if your son or daughter is experiencing something out of the ordinary. One common injury a child can endure is the development of an abscess.
Painful and warm to the touch, abscesses can virtually show up anywhere on your body. However, the most common sites are in the armpits, areas around the anus and vagina, the base of the spine, around a tooth, and in the groin. It’s also important to note that inflammation around a hair follicle can also lead to the formation of an abscess, which is called a boil.
Unlike other infections, antibiotics alone will not usually cure an abscess. In general, an abscess must be opened and drained for it to improve. Sometimes draining occurs on its own, but generally, it must be opened with the help of a warm compress or by a doctor in a procedure called ‘Incision and Drainage.’
Sadly, kids are more prone to abscesses because they’re less likely to tend and clean their wounds, putting them at risk for these nasty infections. Foreign objects that get inside a wound, like sand or clothing fibers, can also lead to abscesses, as can irritated hair follicles.
The first kind of abscess we’ll discuss is skin abscesses. This is when bacteria get under the surface of your skin, and an abscess forms. This can occur anywhere on the body, although skin abscesses tend to be more common in the underarms, genitals, buttocks, trunk, hands, and feet. When this happens, bacteria will creep underneath your skin and cause an abscess. If you have a minor skin wound, such as a small cut, gash, or a sebaceous gland (oil gland) or sweat gland, this can lead to an abscess as well.
Then there are internal abscesses. These develop inside of the stomach and are caused by an infection reaching tissue deeper within the body. This can occur because of an injury, abdominal surgery, or an infection spreading from a nearby wound or cut. Unfortunately, there are numerous ways an infection can spread in the abdomen and cause an abscess to develop. For example, a lung abscess may form after a bacterial infection in your lungs, such as pneumonia, and a burst appendix can spread bacteria within your abdomen. If your child is experiencing high temperature, increased sweating, chills, pain in their stomach, or loss of appetite and weight, your child may be experiencing an internal abscess.
Lastly, there are tooth abscesses. This is when a pocket of pus that’s caused by a bacterial infection poison one of your teeth. The abscess can occur in different areas near the tooth for different reasons. A periapical abscess occurs at the tip of the root. A periodontal abscess occurs in the gums at the side of a tooth root. A periapical tooth abscess usually occurs because of an untreated dental cavity, an injury, or prior dental work. The resulting infection with irritation and swelling can cause an abscess at the tip of the root. Symptoms to look out for are severe toothaches that spread to the jawbone, neck, and ear, pain with hot and cold temperatures, pain when chewing, fever, swelling in the face, tender or swollen lymph nodes, and foul mouth odor.
Traditionally, dentists will treat a tooth abscess by draining it and getting rid of the infection. They may be able to save your tooth with a root canal treatment. But in some cases, the tooth may need to be pulled. Leaving a tooth abscess untreated can lead to serious, even life-threatening, complications so make sure to take your little one to the dentist ASAP!
The most common way someone may contract an abscess is from infection with staphylococcal bacteria. From there, bacteria enter the body, and the immune system sends white blood cells to fight the infection. This causes swelling at the site of infection and the death of nearby tissue. A cavity is created, which fills with pus to form an abscess. The pus contains a mixture of dead tissue, white blood cells, and bacteria. The abscess may get larger and more painful as the infection continues and more pus is produced. Some types of staphylococcal bacteria produce a toxin called Panton-Valentine leucocidin, which kills white blood cells. This causes the body to make more cells to keep fighting the infection and can lead to repeated skin infections. However, in rare cases, an abscess may be caused by a virus, fungi, or parasites.
Finally, some good news! Most abscesses can be treated at home. If the abscess is small (less than 1 cm or less than a half-inch across), applying warm compresses to the area for about 30 minutes 4 times daily may help. Do not attempt to drain the abscess by squeezing or pressing on it. This can push the infected material into the deeper tissues. Also, do not attempt to stick a needle or other sharp instruments into the abscess center, because you may injure an underlying blood vessel or cause the infection to spread. It’s important to make sure your child avoids touching, pushing, popping, or squeezing the abscess because that can easily spread the infection or push it deeper inside the body, only making things worse. An easy way to prevent spreading the infection is by not letting your child share clothes, towels, washcloths, sheets, or anything that may have touched the abscess.
Even though you can take it upon yourself to treat your little one, seeing a healthcare provider is highly recommended to ensure full safety. The trained professional will be skilled enough to cut open the abscess and completely drain the pus and debris. Once the sore has drained, the doctor may insert some packing into the remaining cavity to allow the infection to continue to drain. It may be kept open for a day or two. A bandage will then be placed over the packing, and you will be given instructions about home care. Most children will feel better immediately after the abscess is drained. If the child is still experiencing pain, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics for home use over the next few days.
Continuing on the good news train, abscesses of all kinds can be prevented by practicing good hygiene. Keep all cuts and wounds clean, dry, and covered with a bandage to protect them from germs. It is also important to teach kids to wash their hands often and well, using soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water aren’t handy, it’s OK to use alcohol-based instant hand sanitizers or wipes.
Fortunately, once treated the abscess should heal and your child will forget all about it. Even though there are rare cases in which abscesses shave led to serious illnesses, the chances of that happening are extremely low if you make sure to follow these simple steps. Abscesses can be nasty, and many people become squeamish at the sight of them, but the staff at Chai Care are trained professionals who can take care of them in no time!
* Legal disclaimer: The content of this article and the entire Chai Care blog is for educational purposes only; it does NOT constitute medical advice and must not be considered as such. Please consult a medical professional regarding any symptoms or health concerns you or your loved ones.