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When to Seek Treatment for Your Child's Infected Cut

Child getting vaccinated

Cuts, scrapes, and scratches are a normal part of childhood. In many cases, you may calm your child after he or she sustains a minor wound with antibiotic ointment, a Band-Aid, and a kiss.

As a parent, you know to seek medical care if your child needs stitches, is bitten by an animal, gets cut on old metal, or has a cut that doesn't stop bleeding. However, knowing when to take your child to a pediatric doctor for an infection can be less clear cut.

In this blog, we discuss the circumstances surrounding an infected or high-risk cut that mean you should take your child in for evaluation and treatment.

Delayed Healing

In healthy children, minor skin abrasions and lacerations should heal within a period of one to two weeks. If the wound still appears open or does not show significant signs of healing after this period of time, an infection or immunodeficiency may be delaying the healing process.


Infected wounds often begin to drain fluids or pus. Consider this drainage particularly concerning if it smells unpleasant or has a green or yellow color. You should also seek professional medical assistance if your child's wound releases blister-like fluid that appears milky or cloudy.

Expanding Redness

New wounds can appear red due to the initial trauma or to the healing process. However, as the body begins to heal, the red area should become smaller. If you notice that the red area seems to have expanded, especially if the redness grows suddenly in a short period of time, consult with a pediatric doctor.


One of the most common signs of an infection of any kind anywhere in the body is a fever. If your child develops a fever soon after sustaining a small wound or in addition to any of the other symptoms on this list, seek emergency medical care to expedite treatment of the infection.


While fever by itself can indicate the presence of infection, other systemic symptoms can point to this issue as well. If your child expresses feelings of fatigue, nausea, or disorientation when he or she is recuperating from a wound, the symptoms could be from an infection rather than a conventional illness like the flu or the common cold.

Increasing Pain or Tenderness

Like area redness, the pain and tenderness of an injury should diminish during the healing process. If you suspect that your child's wound could be infected, ask him or her if the spot still hurts and how much. If the area hurts the same amount or more than it did in the first few days, the wound is likely infected.


In addition to general redness, infected wounds can develop distinct red streaks. This warning sign of infection is a particularly serious one and indicates the need for emergency medical care as soon as possible. Look for any distinct red lines starting at the wound and leading outward.


Bumps and bruises are common secondary injuries sustained when children sustain a cut or scrape due to a fall or collision. However, most bruises tend to heal more quickly than open wounds, and area swelling should subside within several hours of the incident. If the swelling does not decrease, consult with a medical professional.

If you notice any of the characteristics listed above, seek medical treatment for your child as soon as possible. Prompt treatment can minimize the discomfort and potential complications your child may face as the result of the infection.

For comprehensive and compassionate medical care tailored to your child's unique needs, including emergency treatment of infections, trust the experienced staff at Pediatric Consultants.