Cellulitis is a common bacterial skin infection. It can occur anywhere on the body. Since children are more prone to developing skin cuts and scratches while playing, they are particularly exposed to this type of infection.
Bacteria, such as Staph and Strep strains, naturally present at the surface of the skin, will penetrate through the cuts; as a result of this invasion, an infection of the deep layers will develop.
Although the condition is usually minor, it can quickly become severe without treatment. In this article, we will detail the symptoms and treatments for cellulitis in children.
Causes & Diagnosis
In general, cellulitis in children happens following a break or an injury to the skin.
It could also be the complication of severe chronic skin diseases such as eczema, or other non-inflammatory skin conditions.
A doctor can quickly diagnose the condition in children. He/she will ask the caregiver a few questions about the medical history of the disease and perform a thorough examination to establish the diagnosis.
Additionally, a blood sample might be needed to confirm the diagnosis. The age of the child should be considered with regards to the choice of diagnostic procedures.
The most common symptoms of cellulitis in children are redness and swelling. Since this condition can quickly progress in children, it is important to visit a doctor as soon as symptoms emerge.
Some of the locations of cellulitis in children can result in serious complications. For example, orbital cellulitis, which is an infection that occurs in the space surrounding the eyeball. Usual symptoms related to this location of the infection include deep pain and swelling extending to the eyelids. In the worst case scenario, it can involve the optic nerve and result in altered vision. Therefore, any swelling near the eyelids requires swift medical attention.
Cellulitis in children is usually treated with oral antibiotics. Depending on the severity of the infection and the age of the child, this treatment can also be given intravenously. Most children can take antibiotics orally in a liquid presentation without any issue.
The vast majority of children affected with cellulitis will make a quick recovery after treatment if there is no underlying disease. The child should take a rest while undergoing treatment as this will allow quick resolution of the infection. The doctor may also take into account your preferences when deciding upon the modalities of the treatment.
There are some steps you can follow to prevent children from catching this infection. Firstly, it is important to maintain excellent general hygiene.
It is vital to explain the importance of washing hands to children. Hands should be washed carefully after playing. Your child should report any wounds to you. It is important to deal with wounds quickly and keep them clean as they heal. An unclean wound always increases the risk of cellulitis.
Treating properly underlying skin conditions such as eczema is equally important. Teach your child not to scratch, since scratching the skin can make it more susceptible to cellulitis.
Under most circumstances, cellulitis is not contagious as the infection affects the deep layers underneath the skin surface.
Image credit: DepositPhoto.com
Last article update: 10/2/2019
Medically reviewed by Dr. Thouria Bensaoula on Oct 01, 2019.