Serious skin infections
Serious skin infections
- see your doctor early if your child has a sore or redness that is the size of a ten cent coin or larger; has pus; is getting bigger; has red streaks coming from it or has not got better within two days
- see your doctor urgently if there is any sore or redness near your child’s eye
How do I care for my child recovering from a serious skin infection?
You will need to do the following for your child:
- avoid sharing towels and bedding, as infection can spread to others easily
- wash your child’s linen and clothing regularly with hot water
- cut their fingernails short and keep them clean to avoid skin breaks from scratching
- encourage all family members to wash and dry hands thoroughly, and often
- examine your child’s skin and wash any breaks in the skin with warm salty water (put a cup of warm water and half a teaspoon of salt in a basin and use a clean cloth to soak and wash the sores)
- see your doctor early if redness develops
- avoid sharing bath, swimming and cleaning water when your child has an infected wound
- shower your child instead of bathing them until they are better, if possible
- don’t let your child swim in unclean water when they have an open wound
Also make sure your child:
- gets plenty of sleep
- eats lots of fruit and vegetables
- washes and dries hands after the toilet and before eating
If your child has a sore, it is important to:
- clean the sore with warm salty water (put a cup of warm water and half a teaspoon of salt in a basin and use a clean cloth to soak and wash the sores)
- cover the sore with a fabric plaster
- check the sore daily
You should see your doctor if a sore or redness:
- is the size of a ten cent coin or larger
is getting bigger
- has red streaks coming from it
- is not getting better within two days
You should see your doctor urgently if there is any sore or redness near your child’s eye.
What should I watch out for with insect bites?
Insect (especially mosquito) bites are a common cause of skin infections, so:
- check your child regularly to identify insect bites early, so that bites can be treated early
- if your child is scratching insect bites, they can become infected and lead to a serious skin infection
- if an insect bite is red and may be infected, take your child to your doctor early for treatment
- insect bites are covered by ACC (Accident Compensation Corporation) so treatment will be at a reduced cost
What about medication for my child?
If your child has been given antibiotics:
- they must complete the whole course of antibiotics
- you cannot share antibiotics with other family members; each person needs their own
- ask your your doctor or nurse if you have any concerns about medication
- ask your doctor or nurse for the correct dose of paracetamol – you must follow their instructions or the dosage instructions on the bottle; it is dangerous to give more than the recommended dose
If your child has had a hospital visit because of a serious skin infection, the hospital will send a letter to your doctor about your child’s hospital visit. You can follow up with them if you have any questions about treatment or medication (or ask your pharmacist).
How long should I keep my child home?
You should keep your child home until they can move around easily again, are not in pain and are well again.
What if I need more help at home?
You may be able to have a community health worker or nurse follow-up at home, especially if:
- there is a wound that needs dressing that you cannot manage
- transport is difficult
- your child has been to hospital before for a skin infection
Please ask your doctor or nurse if you qualify for extra support.
Download and print brochures in several languages
This fact sheet is based on a brochure produced by the Auckland Regional Public Health Service in collaboration with the Starship Cellulitis Pathway Team. You can download and print a copy of Information for parents and caregivers about serious skin infections, in pdf format, in the following languages:
Where to go for more information
Starship Foundation and the Paediatric Society of New Zealand acknowledge the co-operation of the Auckland Regional Public Health Service and the Starship Cellulitis Pathway Team in making this fact sheet available to families. It is based on the brochure "Information for parents and caregivers about serious skin infections".
© Paediatric Society of New Zealand and Starship Foundation 2005 – 2013
Printed on 23 May 2013. Content is regularly updated so please refer to www.kidshealth.org.nz for the most up-to-date version
DISCLAIMERThis fact sheet is for educational use only.
Please consult your doctor or other health professional to make sure this information is right for your child.
Fact sheets are subject to copyright. In the interests of information sharing they may be copied but acknowledgement must be given to PSNZ and Starship Foundation.
© The Paediatric Society of New Zealand and Starship Foundation 2005 - 2012