Patient Information


What is cellulitis?

Cellulitis is a deep bacterial infection of the skin. The infection usually involves the face, or the arms and legs. It may happen in normal skin, but it usually occurs after some type of trauma causes an opening in your child's skin. This opening can lead to an infection.

What is the cause of cellulitis?

Cellulitis is usually caused by a bacterial infection of a wound or area of skin that is no longer intact. The most common bacterial causes of cellulitis include the following:

group A ß - hemolytic streptococcus

Streptococcus pneumoniae

Staphylococcus aureus

Other causes may include human or animal bites, or injuries that occur in water.

What are the symptoms of cellulitis?

The following are the most common symptoms of cellulitis. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

swelling of the skin


warm skin







feeling weak

red streaks from the original site of the cellulitis

Some cases of cellulitis are considered an emergency. Consult your child's physician immediately if you notice any of the following symptoms in your child:

a very large area of red, inflamed skin


if the area affected is causing your child to complain of numbness, tingling, or other changes in a hand, arm, leg, or foot

if the skin appears black

if the area that is red and swollen is around your child's eye(s) or behind his/her ear(s)

if your child has diabetes or has a weakened immune system and develops cellulitis

The symptoms of cellulitis may resemble other skin conditions. Always consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.

How is cellulitis diagnosed?

Diagnosis is usually based on a medical history and physical examination of your child. Blood and skin samples may be taken to confirm the diagnosis and the type of bacteria that is present.

Treatment for cellulitis:

Specific treatment for cellulitis will be determined by your child's physician based on:

your child's age, overall health, and medical history

extent of the disease

your child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies

expectations for the course of the disease

your opinion or preference

Immediate treatment can help prevent the spread of cellulitis. Treatment may include:

oral or intravenous (IV) antibiotics

warm, wet dressings on the infection site

surgical intervention

if your child has an extremity (arm or leg) that is affected, his/her physician may have you elevate the extremity and decrease the amount of activity


Based on the physical examination, your child's physician may treat your child in the hospital depending on the severity of the cellulitis. In the hospital, your child may receive antibiotics and fluids through an intravenous (IV) catheter.

Are there any complications from cellulitis?

Complications can be reduced with prompt and accurate treatment by your child's physician. The most common complications include the following:

    meningitis-an inflammation of the membrane of the brain and the spinal cord.

    septic (infectious) arthritis-an infection of a joint caused by bacteria.

    glomerulonephritis-an inflammation of the kidneys.

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