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IV Site in Children: Care Instructions

Common IV sites on arm, with close-up of IV on back of child's hand

Overview

Medicines or fluids may be given through an intravenous (IV) tube inserted into a vein. The IV is most often placed in the back of your child's hand, on the forearm, or on the inside of the elbow.

When the IV is in place, medicines or fluids can go quickly into your child's bloodstream and into the rest of the body.

If your child had an IV while he or she was in the hospital, the area where it was placed may be tender or have a small bruise for a while.

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 call line 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.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Check the area for bruising or swelling for a few days after your child gets home.
  • If your child has bruising or swelling, you can put ice or a cold pack on the area for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your child's skin.
  • Let your child shower or bathe as usual.
  • Be gentle using the area around the IV site for a day or two. But your child should be able to do his or her usual activities, unless your doctor gave you other instructions.

When should you call for help?

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

  • Your child has signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the site.
    • Pus or blood draining from the site.
    • A fever.

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

  • You notice a large lump at the IV site.
  • You notice new or worse bruising at the IV site.

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.