What should I do if my child seems to have a skin infection?
Flu-like symptoms or a fever (thermometer reads 100.4° F or higher): Get immediate medical care.
Signs of infection without fever: If you see signs but your child seems the same as usual, contact your child’s dermatologist.
If you are using wet-wrap therapy, occlusion (covering the eczema with plastic), or soak and smear, stop. These can worsen the infection. Before using one of these treatments again, ask your child’s dermatologist when it’s safe to start.
How is a skin infection treated?
Medicine is required to clear the infection. The type of medicine will vary with the type of germ causing the infection. An antibiotic is necessary to treat an infection caused by bacteria, such as a staph or strep infection. Some antibiotics you apply to the skin. Others come in pill form.
A virus often requires an anti-viral medicine like acyclovir.
A fungal infection may be treated with an anti-fungal cream. Sometimes stronger medicine is necessary to treat an infection caused by a fungus.
Can I prevent new skin infections?
If your child gets frequent skin infections, the following can be helpful:
- Bathe your child as often your child’s dermatologist recommends. Bathing helps remove bacteria, viruses, and other germs from the skin. It also helps the skin heal.
- Moisturize your child’s skin as often as necessary to reduce dry skin and cracking. Germs enter the body through cracks in the skin.
- Avoid dipping your fingers into your child’s moisturizer. Dipping your fingers into your child’s moisturizer can spread bacteria and other germs from your child’s skin to the moisturizer. If you’ve been dipping your fingers into your child’s moisturizer and your child develops a skin infection, you’ll need to throw away the moisturizer.
You can avoid spreading bacteria and other germs by:
- Using a pump applicator
- Scooping out the moisturizer with a spoon
- Ask your child’s dermatologist about bleach bath therapy. For children who get frequent skin infections, this therapy may be helpful.
- If your child continues to have just as many skin infections and you’re doing everything to prevent these, tell your child’s dermatologist. A bit of detective work may be necessary to find out what’s causing the infections.
Why do children with eczema get frequent skin infections?
The skin has many important jobs. One is to keep out germs and other harmful substances. Eczema makes the skin less effective at doing this job, so it’s easier for bacteria, viruses, and other germs to get inside the body.
Following the dermatologist’s treatment plan helps to build up the skin so that it can do a better job of keeping out germs and other substances. (7.7, 605)
Additional related content
Cold sores: Should I keep a child with eczema away?
Does eczema put my child at risk for infections?
How to bathe a child who has eczema
Blisters, crusts and open sores: Photos used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides.
Honey-colored crusts: Photo used with permission of Moise L. Levy, MD, FAAD
Small, crusted bumps: Dermatology DDx Deck, Photo reprinted with permission of Elsevier-Moby.
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