When your toddler gets a cut or scrape on his finger, a minor infection can set in quickly. As long as the infection isn't serious, you might be able to treat it at home. Remember to keep an eye out for any signs that the infection is getting worse and contact a doctor if you have any doubts about how serious the injury is.
A minor infection is localized, meaning that it only appears in and around the injury, not spread throughout the body. If your toddler's finger injury appears pink and feels warm to the touch, it is probably a minor infection. A cut or scrape that does not show signs of infection should simply be cleaned and bandaged and watched each day as it heals, to look for signs of a developing infection.
Treating an Infection
You should wash your toddler's infected finger with soap and water at least once a day. Put a thin layer of antibiotic cream or ointment on the wound after cleaning it. Cover the injury with a clean bandage, making sure it isn't too tight on the wound. Check the injury every day for signs of increased redness, swelling, pus or pain. These could be signs that the infection is getting worse and you might need to take your child to a doctor. If your child is not up to date on her immunizations, she might need a booster tetanus shot after an injury that leads to infection.
If the infection does not get better after three to four days, you should bring your toddler to see a pediatrician. If the infection enters the bloodstream, it can quickly become dangerous. Signs that the infection has spread throughout the body include fever, chills, weakness and aching joints. The infection could also develop into cellulitis, a serious form of a local infection. Symptoms of cellulitis include fever, chills, shaking, red streaks on the skin and swollen lymph nodes. If your child displays any of the symptoms of cellulitis or a systemic infection, she might need emergency treatment.
Instructing Your Child
Toddlers are naturally curious about their own bodies, so it might be difficult to keep your child from exploring her injured finger. You should instruct her not to pull off the bandage or pick at the wound. Help her wash her hands a few times during the course of the day so she doesn't accidentally contaminate the wound and make the infection worse.
Bridget Coila specializes in health, nutrition, pregnancy, pet and parenting topics. Her articles have appeared in Oxygen, American Fitness and on various websites. Coila has a Bachelor of Science in cell and molecular biology from the University of Cincinnati and more than 10 years of medical research experience.