Minnesota parents, hopefully you never see this on your kids' skin but if you do it's important to act quickly. If you ever notice red lines on the skin and action isn't taken it will lead to a scary situation.

I would know, because it happened to me.

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(For transparency, none of the pictures in this story are from my experience. We couldn't find the pictures anywhere or I would have shared them with you!)

Carly's Childhood Health Scare

I believe I was in 9th grade at the time. One day at school I noticed this area on the inside of my right forearm that kind of looked like a zit. It was red with a white center and was tender whenever I accidentally touched my side or my bookbag.

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

It was so strange. I showed my friends and we all thought I just got a zit on a weird part of my body. Or maybe it was a spider bite. So I went about my day.

Pretty soon the red splotch was getting bigger and it was getting more sensitive whenever I touched it. Then a red line started forming from the area and going up my arm. My parents didn't know what it was but I wasn't showing any strange symptoms and didn't feel ill so we just waited to see what happened.

Credit: Merck Manual
Credit: Merck Manual

It was either the same day or the next evening and I was at dance. My mom was talking with other dance moms. She ended up telling one of the other moms, who's a nurse, about my arm and she said "You need to get her into the doctor as soon as possible."

We Made it to the Doctor and Got the Scary News

The following morning I was at the doctor and the red line had progressed from my forearm all the way up to about the middle of my inner bicep.

The doctor said if we had waited much longer to bring me in I would have ended up in the hospital.

I had a staph infection. And if I hadn't gone in when I did, the bacterial infection would have ended up getting into my heart and in my bloodstream which would have caused sepsis, a life-threatening medical emergency.

That red line I saw going up my arm was the infection progressing, which is exactly what you need to watch out for on your kids' skin. Or even your own skin, because this can happen to anyone!

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Red Tracking Lines

IFL Science says that this infection can happen because of bacteria getting into a bite or cut. I didn't remember having a wound where the infection started so be aware that this can happen on the smallest of wounds, including tiny bug bites.

Also, these lines don't always mean a staph infection (or Staphylococcus). It could also be Streptococcus or Sporothrix. It depends on where the infection comes from. But the tracking lines themselves are called Lymphangitis.

What to Do if You See Red Tracking Lines

If you notice an area of skin that's red and inflamed, take a pen and draw around the border. That way you'll be able to track if it gets any bigger. If it does, go to the doctor and get it taken care of. In my case, that involved draining the nasty stuff from my arm and taking antibiotics that were prescribed to me.

I think it's worth noting that it doesn't seem like all of these infections start looking like zits, that was just my case. Any time that you notice a red, inflamed area of skin, especially if it's where there was/is a bite or cut, pay close attention to it.

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Gallery Credit: Jessica Williams

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