How to Recognize, Prevent, & Care For Cellulitis

Cellulitis is a skin infection affecting the tissues beneath the skin. Different types of bacteria can cause cellulitis and the most common are group A streptococcus and staphylococcus. Cellulitis requires medical attention because short term it can cause fever, chills, and swollen glands and if it’s untreated, this infection can cause serious complications.

Symptoms of Cellulitis

The signs of cellulitis include redness, warmth, swelling, and pain in the affected skin tissues. As the red area enlarges, the affected person can develop a fever, chills and sweats and swollen lymph nodes near the infected skin. If it turns out to be cellulitis it can spread quickly and in some cases, red streaks may appear around the area.

You can get cellulitis on any part of your body, but it often occurs on the face and legs where there are skin wounds. People with morbid obesity can also develop cellulitis on their stomach or abdominal area.

Is it Contagious?

Cellulitis is not contagious because it is an infection of the skin’s deeper layers. As such cellulitis differs from impetigo, which is a superficial skin infection that can be contagious.

How is Cellulitis Diagnosed & What is The Treatment?

First, it is crucial that your doctor determine whether or not the inflammation is due to an infection. He or she will examine your child’s skin and ask questions about recent injuries and activities. If your child has cellulitis, a common treatment is antibiotics.

Preventing Cellulitis

Usually, when your child gets a scratch, the problem clears up on its own. However infection can happen when bacteria enters the body through cuts, scratches, animal and bites, etc. As such, what began as a simple scrape or insect bite can become cellulitis.

You can usually prevent cellulitis by protecting the skin from scrapes, cuts, and bites. Here are some things you can do:

  • Remind your child to not scratch at scabs, insect bites or chickenpox sores.
  • Have them wear a protective helmet when riding their bike, and additional elbow, knee, and wrist pads when they play hockey, ride their scooter, do sports, skateboard or skate.
  • Keep your kids in shoes when they are outside.
  • Attire them in long pants and long-sleeved shirts when they hike, rock climb, mountain bike, or play rough outside.

Of course, every kid falls, gets a few scrapes, and is bitten by bugs. When this happens, wash the broken skin immediately with soap and warm water, and continue to wash it once a day until it scabs over. If needed, apply antibiotic ointment and a bandage. For more serious cuts, please give us a call.

One type of cellulitis more commonly seen now is infection from Methicillin Resistant Staph Aureus (MRSA). This infection that used to be found more commonly in hospitals is now commonly seen in the community. It looks like a large, painful red pimple that needs to be “popped.” It is common in areas that are warm and moist (like in the diaper area in young kids and under sporting equipment/pads in older kids). If you see anything like this, it may need to be tested (cultured) and treated, so please let us know.

Contact Us (859-525-8181) if you have any questions!

Pediatrics of About Pediatrics of Florence

We believe that children are more than just “little adults.” They have unique personalities, challenges, and life circumstances and we have made every effort to make our offices and care as “kid friendly” as possible. We have an aquatic theme in the waiting rooms (separated for sick and well children) as well as themed examination rooms. All of our physicians are Board Certified Pediatricians and members of the American Academy of Pediatrics and our nurse practitioners are all licensed Pediatric Nurse Practitioners and are available to see both well and sick children.
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