Cellulitis in Children: How to treat it safely and quickly?
Fact-checked by MFine | Last Updated : November 5th, 2019
Cellulitis is a fairly common condition among babies and young children. Find out how you can treat cellulitis and prevent your child from contracting it again.
Cellulitis is a skin infection, wherein bacteria enters the skin and results in swelling and redness. The commonly affected areas are legs, arms, and face. Cellulitis usually occurs due to some trauma to the skin or due to human or animal bites. In children, this condition mostly arises when they get injured and the wound tears the skin open. Visible symptoms are swelling of the skin, flaky and dry skin, blisters, bruises, leaking of clear fluids, pus, etc. The treatment for cellulitis differs from person to person. Children, especially, are always at a risk of getting infected, thus it is of utmost importance to consult a doctor before deciding upon any treatment.
Diagnosis for CellulitisLike ear infection in children, cellulitis is a fairly common condition. Cellulitis resembles other skin conditions and might have similar symptoms. Therefore, it is always advisable to avoid self-diagnosis and consult your child’s paediatrician when in doubt. Though in most cases tests are not required to diagnose cellulitis, some doctors ask for blood or skin samples to test the type of bacteria present.
Treatment for Cellulitis
- First and foremost, rest the infected area. Do not touch, scratch or rub the infected area with bare hands, and avoid applying any ointments or other medications that haven’t been prescribed. It is also helpful to elevate the infected area. For example, if your child’s leg has been infected, keep pillows under the leg so that it stays on a raised platform.
- To prevent the spreading of cellulitis, an immediate treatment which can be done is dressing the infected area with a clean cloth or bandage. However, before doing so, one should clean their own hands with a disinfectant and avoid direct contact with the wound.
- If the doctor diagnoses the infection as a mild one, then he or she might prescribe antibiotics to be taken for a week or two, after which the infection is supposed to have reduced or healed.
- If your child experiences unbearable pain, your physician may prescribe painkillers to reduce the pain. Follow the dosage correctly and make sure that painkillers aren’t consumed on an empty stomach. This might have adverse effects on your child’s health.
- If the infection is severe or is close to sensitive areas like eyes, then the usual mode of treatment is through intravenous or intramuscular antibiotics.
- Finally, in some cases, surgery might be the last resort to treat the cellulitis infection. In such a case, doctors tear the wound open to drain out the pus. This is a common procedure and thus there’s nothing to be worried about in case one has to undergo a surgery.
How to identify severe cellulitis?
- If your child has a severe headache or a fever in the aftermath of getting bruised or infected, then it may be a severe case of cellulitis and these symptoms should not be ignored.
- Vomiting, muscle weakness, and seizures are also signs of extreme cellulitis and need immediate attention.
- Other symptoms include cold and clammy skin and severe pain in the joints and bones. Severe cellulitis causes the infection to spread quickly and can be fatal. Therefore, it is important to identify the symptoms and provide treatment at the earliest.
How to prevent cellulitis?
- Cellulitis can be prevented by cleaning wounds, cuts, and bruises right away. Usually, we do not attend to minor injuries and depend on the natural course of healing. However, these minor injuries tend to grow and spread, resulting in infections like cellulitis.
- In children, one of the main carriers of infection is their fingernails. It is always advisable to cut your child’s nails short and keep grooming them to avoid them from scratching their skin and injuries.
- When you send your child outdoors, make sure that they wear shoes and socks that are well fitted and give them a good grip. Never let them walk outside barefoot as this is a leading cause of bruising and skin abrasions in children.
- Also, use protective gear for your kids, like knee and elbow pads while skating, helmets while cycling and mosquito-repellent creams while sending them outdoors.
- If you notice any minor injury in your child or a regular injury taking more than its course of time to heal, then make sure to contact the doctor immediately. Prevention is, after all, better than cure.
- It is also important to train your children to be able to aid themselves in case of emergencies. In most cases, cellulitis turns to be severe due to the lack of proper first aid.
- Lastly, prevent your child from sharing clothes, sheets, towels, and other personal items as those carry germs and result in infections.
- As cellulitis is not a contagious infection, it is completely safe to send your child to school once the infection has healed and your child is healthy. However, if fever or pain still pertains, then it is in the child’s best interest to get ample rest before resuming school.