How Can I Tell If My Child’s Cut Is Infected?

Cuts and scrapes are a normal part of a kid’s everyday life, and minor ones are almost never anything to worry about. If cleaned, treated, and protected properly, minor cuts will usually heal on their own – and quickly.

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Do you know how to tell if a cut is infected?

However, if you don’t get the chance to treat a cut properly, or if the cut is accidentally exposed to dirt or bacteria – there is a chance it could get infected and require more serious medical attention.

An infection happens in a wound if there are too many germs in the cut for your body’s white blood cells to handle. If you think your child’s cut looks a bit out of the ordinary or doesn’t seem to be healing properly, you’ll want to make sure it’s not infected. The symptoms below are common signs of an infected cut, and if you see one or more of these, you’ll want to have a doctor examine it further. 

1. Pus – If there is a cloudy or colored liquid oozing from the wound, this is called pus. Pus is most often yellow in color, and it is a buildup of dead white blood cells that have been sent to the site of the cut to treat an infection. Pus is a very common sign of infection in minor cuts.

2. Increasing redness around the wound – It’s normal when a wound is fresh or new for it to be very tender and red. But it’s a bad sign if the redness continues to spread throughout the skin around the wound. This is a condition called cellulitis, and it often means an infection has occurred at the site of the cut. A red streak from the wound extending for a ways beneath the skin is also a sign that the lymph system draining an infection from the cut has become infected. Streaking is a sure sign to visit the doctor right away.

3. Fever– Your fever often spikes when it is fighting an infection. So, if your child has a fever higher than 100 and no other symptoms of sickness, there is a chance it is working hard to fight an infection in the cut. Treat the fever with regular fever reducers until you can see your doctor for a treatment for the infection. 

4. Increasing Pain – A cut can hurt a lot at first, but typically, after it begins to heal, it will hurt less and less. If the pain from you child’s cut increases over time, this is a sign to investigate further.

5. Swelling–Swelling around the site of a cut is a common indication that bacteria has gotten into the wounded area. Swelling is also something to pay attention to if it’s accompanied by tenderness.


If you fear your child’s cut may be infected, fear not – treating minor wound infections is a simple and painless process when you catch them in time. If your child’s doctor confirms your suspicions, she will most likely prescribe antibiotics – either oral or topical – recommend a better way to wrap the wound to ward off infection, and soon the cut will heal in no time.