Skin Lesions in Children: Care Instructions

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A skin lesion is a general term used for the different types of bumps, spots, moles, or other growths that may appear on the skin. Most skin lesions are harmless, but sometimes they can be a sign of skin cancer or other health problems.

Depending on what type of lesion your child has, your doctor may cut out all or a small area of the skin tissue and send it to a lab to be looked at under a microscope. This is called a biopsy. A biopsy may be done to figure out what the lesion is or to make sure it is not skin cancer.

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 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?

If your child didn't have a biopsy or other treatment today:

  • Carefully follow any instructions you were given by your child's doctor. If you don't have any instructions, the following steps may help:
    • Keep the area clean and dry.
    • Use a moisturizer after your child has a bath or shower.
    • Don't let your child squeeze, scratch, or pick at the area.
    • Leave the area exposed to the air whenever you can.
    • Adjust your child's clothing to avoid rubbing the bump or spot. Or you can cover it with a bandage.
    • Protect your child's skin from the sun.

If your child had a biopsy or other treatment today:

  • If your doctor told you how to care for your child's wound, follow your doctor's instructions. If you did not get instructions, follow this general advice:
    • Keep the wound bandaged and dry for the first day.
    • After the first day, wash around the wound with clean water 2 times a day. Don't use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol, which can slow healing.
    • You may cover the wound with a thin layer of petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline, and a nonstick bandage.
    • Apply more petroleum jelly and replace the bandage as needed.
    • Avoid using an antibiotic ointment unless your child's doctor recommends it.
  • If your child has stitches, you may get other instructions. Your child will have to return to have the stitches removed.
  • If a scab forms, do not pull it off. Let it fall off on its own. Wounds heal faster if no scab forms. Washing the area every day and using the petroleum jelly will help keep a scab from forming.
  • If the wound bleeds, put direct pressure on it with a clean cloth until the bleeding stops.
  • If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine.
    • Do not give your child two or more pain medicines at the same time unless the doctor told you to. Many pain medicines have acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.
  • If your child had a growth "frozen" with liquid nitrogen, your child may get a blister. Do not break it. Let it dry up on its own. It is common for the blister to fill with blood. You do not need to do anything about this, but if it becomes too painful, call your doctor.
  • Protect your child's skin from the sun.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor 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 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:

  • The wound changes, bleeds, or gets worse.
  • Your child does not get better after 2 weeks of home care.

Where can you learn more?

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.