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Felon Infection in Children: Care Instructions


An infection of the pad of the finger is called a felon. The finger is made up of several small areas of tissue. Because of this, pus from an infection can build up with no place to go. Then the infection can spread deeper into the finger. Sometimes it can spread into the bone.

An infection can happen after a cut, a scrape, a puncture, or some other injury.

Your child's finger may be painful and red. Mild infections may be treated with antibiotics alone. You also may soak your child's finger in warm water.

If the infection is deeper or there is a lot of pus, the doctor may open the area to drain the pus. This is sometimes done in an operating room.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • If the doctor prescribed antibiotics for your child, give them as directed. Do not stop using them just because your child feels better. Your child needs to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine for pain, give it as prescribed.
    • If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • Prop up the hand on a pillow anytime your child sits or lies down during the next 3 days. Try to keep the area above the level of your child's heart. This will help reduce swelling.
  • If your doctor told you how to care for the wound, follow your doctor's instructions. If you did not get instructions, follow this general advice:
    • Wash the area with clean water 2 times a day. Don't use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol, which can slow healing.
    • Cover with a non-stick bandage.
  • If the area was packed with gauze:
    • Go to all follow-up appointments to have the gauze changed or removed.
    • Your doctor may ask you to remove the gauze. If so, gently pull out all of the gauze when your doctor tells you to.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has signs that the infection is getting worse, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the area.
    • Pus draining from the area.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.