Clinical Reference Systems: Pediatric Advisor 10.0
Cellulitis is an infected area of skin showing signs of
redness, pain, warmth, and swelling. Sometimes there is
swelling of nearby lymph nodes or red streaking from the
infected area. If not treated, the infection may spread to
deeper tissues or into the bloodstream.
The infection of the skin and underlying tissues is caused
by bacteria that may enter the skin after an animal bite,
insect bite or sting, cut, scratch, splinter, puncture,
burn, or other type of wound. Sometimes there is no wound
and the bacteria come from the bloodstream. Cellulitis can
occur on any part of the body.
The doctor will prescribe an antibiotic for your child.
The antibiotic should be completed as prescribed and
should not be stopped even if the symptoms are going
- Heat and elevation
Apply a warm, moist towel or heating pad to the
reddened, affected area three times a day for 20 minutes
at a time. Elevate the area as much as possible on
pillows above the level of the heart to decrease
swelling and pain.
- Pain control
Children's acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin
or Advil) may be given for pain or fever over
102 degrees F (38.9 degrees C).
Whenever your child has any type of skin wound, it is very
important to keep the area as clean as possible. The best
method for cleaning a wound is to place the injured area
under running water for several minutes. Then, clean it
with a cotton swab soaked in hydrogen peroxide two to three
times a day. Cover wounds with an antibiotic ointment such
as Neosporin or bacitracin.
If you suspect that your child has cellulitis, seek
treatment early. If you notice your child has red, swollen,
warm, painful skin, even if you do not see a recent wound,
see your physician that day.
Call Your Child's Physician IMMEDIATELY If:
- Your child is unable to drink fluids or keep the
- Your child is lethargic (sluggish) or irritable.
- The swelling, redness, pain, or warmth is still there 48
hours after your child started taking the antibiotic.
- Your child still has a fever 48 hours after he or she
started taking the antibiotic.
- The swelling, redness, pain, or warmth spreads or
- Red streaks develop from the infected area.
- Your child starts to act very sick.