What is cellulitis?

Cellulitis is a rapidly spreading and potentially serious bacterial skin infection. It appears as redness and swelling of the infected area and the skin is usually tender and hot to the touch. It can involve any part of the body but is more common on the lower legs, face, and arms.

What causes cellulitis?

A bacteria such as staphylococcus (staphylococcus aureas and a subtype called Methicillin-resistant; MRSA)  or streptococcus (beta-hemolytic streptococci) infects the upper or deeper layers of the skin, usually from a wound or opening suc as a scratch, injury, or bite in the skin.

Children with immune system abnormalities are at increased risk.

What are the symptoms of cellulitis?

Cellulitis causes the skin to be red, swollen, painful, hot, and tender. Red spots, blisters, or dimples can also occur. Red streaks going from the area may also be seen. Your child may have a fever, headache, chills, weakness, and swelling of lymph glands draining the area involved.

As this cellulitis is sometimes considered an emergency, consult your pediatrician especially if signs/symptoms get worse, or the area involved is around the eye or ears, or if your child's infected skin gets darker.

What are cellulitis care options?

Antibiotics are the treatment of choice; these will be given orally or through a vein, depending on severity.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: August 31, 2021 02:31 PM

Children's Dermatology

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