What is topical antibiotics?

Topical Antibiotics
Jump to

Antibiotics for skin conditions in children: Overview

Antibiotics are medicines that kill bacteria. Bacteria can cause some skin problems or conditions. They can also lead to problems like acne and impetigo. There are many types of antibiotics. Each works a little differently and acts on different types of bacteria. Your doctor will decide which medicine will work best for your child.

You can put an antibiotic ointment or cream on your child's skin. Or your child can take pills by mouth to kill bacteria in the skin or pores.

This type of medicine is not used to treat skin problems that are caused by viruses or allergies. But sometimes bacteria get into a skin problem your child already has. Then your child may need antibiotics.

How can you safely take antibiotics for skin conditions?

To take antibiotics

  • If your doctor prescribed pills, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because your skin problem gets better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Apply antibiotic ointment exactly as instructed.
  • Read the label to learn how to store your medicine.
  • Do not use antibiotics that were prescribed for a different illness or for someone else. You may take longer to heal. And your skin problem may get worse.

To take care of your skin

  • Try not to scratch rashes or sores. Scratching may spread bacteria to other parts of your skin or body.
  • Clean your skin with mild soap and water 2 times a day unless your doctor gives you different instructions. Don't use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol, which can slow healing.
  • Protect your skin from the sun. Wear hats with wide brims, sunglasses, and loose-fitting, tightly woven clothing that covers your arms and legs. Make sure to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. Apply it several times a day.

Antibiotics for skin conditions in children: When to call

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has signs of an infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, and redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the affected area.
    • Pus draining from the area.
    • A fever.

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

  • You think your child may be having a problem with the medicine.
  • Your child does not get better as expected.

What are the side effects of antibiotics for skin conditions in children?

Many children do not have side effects. But sometimes they have problems, such as:

  • Nausea, diarrhea, and belly pain.
  • Allergic reactions, such as a skin rash.
  • Vaginal yeast infections.

If the side effects bother your child, ask your doctor if there is another antibiotic that will work as well but will not cause these effects.

©2011-2024 Healthwise, Incorporated

The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.