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Cellulitis in children

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Cellulitis is a common bacterial skin infection that can occur in children. It results from bacteria, usually Streptococcus or Staphylococcus, entering through a break in the skin, such as a cut, scratch, insect bite, or surgical wound. The infection can cause the affected skin area to become red, swollen, warm, and painful.

Symptoms of Cellulitis in Children

  • Redness and Swelling: The skin appears red and swollen and may feel warm to the touch.
  • Pain or Tenderness: The affected area is often painful.
  • Fever: Children may develop a fever as the body tries to fight off the infection.
  • Chills and Sweats: Can accompany the fever.
  • Blisters or Red Spots: In some cases, blisters or red spots may appear on the skin.
  • Swollen Lymph Nodes: Nearby lymph nodes may become swollen.


  • Physical Examination: A doctor will examine the skin and consider the symptoms.
  • Blood Tests: May be ordered to check for signs of infection.
  • Culture: In some cases, a sample from the wound may be taken to identify the bacteria causing the infection.


  • Antibiotics: Oral antibiotics are typically prescribed to treat the infection. It’s essential to complete the full course of antibiotics even if symptoms improve.
  • Rest and Elevation: Resting and elevating the affected area can help reduce swelling.
  • Pain Relief: Over-the-counter pain relievers may be recommended to alleviate discomfort.
  • Warm Compresses: Can help reduce pain and discomfort.

When to Seek Medical Attention

  • If the area of redness expands rapidly.
  • If the child has a high fever or appears very sick.
  • If there are signs of the infection spreading, such as streaking from the infected area, increased pain, numbness, or blistering.
  • If symptoms do not improve after a few days of antibiotic treatment.


If untreated, cellulitis can lead to serious complications such as:

  • Abscess formation: Pockets of pus may develop.
  • Spread of Infection: The infection can spread to other parts of the body, including the lymphatic system and bloodstream, leading to sepsis, a life-threatening condition.
  • Necrotizing fasciitis: A severe, rapidly progressing infection that destroys skin, fat, and muscle tissue.


  • Skin Care: Cleanse minor wounds with water, apply an antibiotic ointment, and cover with a bandage.
  • Hygiene: Regular hand washing and bath time hygiene.
  • Avoiding Scratching: Discourage scratching insect bites or rashes, as this can break the skin.
  • Nail Care: Keeping a child’s nails trimmed to prevent skin injuries.

Cellulitis requires prompt medical attention to prevent complications. With appropriate treatment, most children recover without any long-term effects. Parents and caregivers should monitor the affected area for signs of improvement or worsening and follow the prescribed treatment regimen closely.

The content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice or as a substitute for medical advice of a physician