Infiltration and extravasation happen when medicine or fluid leaks into the tissue/skin around an IV either because the vein breaks or the IV comes out of the vein. The difference between an infiltration and extravasation is the type of medicine or fluid that leaks.
- An infiltration may cause redness, swelling, and discomfort around the site.
- Extravasation is more serious and can cause damage to your tissues/skin resulting in a painful sore that will need treatment.
How are they treated?
A nurse will look at your child’s IV site and talk to a doctor about treatment. All treatment options will be discussed with you.
Possible methods to decrease swelling and pain include:
- Raising the affected arm/leg up on pillows.
- Applying a cool pack or warm pack to the site depending on which medication leaked into the tissue/skin.
- Moving the arm/leg as normally as possible.
- Putting a bandage on the IV site if fluid is leaking. Make sure the bandage is not too tight.
- Treatment with medication is needed in some cases.
When should you notify your child’s nurse or doctor?
Check the skin site regularly for the first 24 hours following an infiltration or extravasation.
What to watch for
- Skin that is cool to touch
- Pale or light-colored skin
- Tight or firm skin
- Fluid leaking from where the IV was
- Bruised or discolored skin
- Difficulty feeling the pulse in the arm/leg where the IV was
If your child’s symptoms get worse, please let the nurse know.
If you have already been discharged from the hospital, contact your primary care doctor or an emergency department for further care.