[Skip to Content]

First Aid: Skin Infections

First Aid

Abscesses and cellulitis are two of the most common childhood skin infections. Here's how to spot them and get treatment.

Signs and Symptoms

Of an abscess:

  • area of swelling, mostly under the skin
  • starts out small and grows bigger gradually
  • skin over abscess might be warm and red
  • painful to the touch
  • may have yellow drainage

Of cellulitis:

  • a red, warm area on the skin that is tender to the touch
  • may be in the area of a scratch, bite, or cut
  • redness often spreads quickly over the skin's surface
  • fever
  • swollen glands nearby

What to Do

Get Medical Care if Your Child:

  • seems to have a skin infection that is getting larger
  • starts to feel sick or has fever or chills
  • has red streaks near the infected area

Think Prevention!

  • Wash hands well and often, especially after touching infected areas.
  • Clean cuts and scrapes with soap and water, apply an antibiotic ointment, and cover with a bandage.
  • Don't share towels, washcloths, razors, or athletic equipment.
Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD
Date reviewed: July 2018