DESCRIPTIONCellulitis is a non-contagious infection of the connective tissue beneath the skin. Skin anywhere on the body is involved, but most likely cellulitis occurs on the face or lower legs.
Appropriate health care includes:
Self-care after diagnosis.
Physician's monitoring of general condition and medications.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSSudden tenderness, swelling, and redness in an area of the child's skin. The area of cellulitis is initially 5cm to 20cm in diameter, and grows rapidly in the first 24 hours. A thin red line often extends from the middle of the cellulitis toward the heart. Cellulitis does not develop into a boil.
Fever, sometimes accompanied by chills and sweats.
General ill feelings.
Swollen lymph glands nearest the cellulitis (sometimes).
Infection from staphylococcus or streptococcus bacteria.
RISK FACTORSUse of immunosuppresive or cortisone drugs.
Chronic illness, such as diabetes mellitus, or a recent infection that has lowered resistance.
Any injury that breaks the skin.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCE
Your child should avoid skin damage and use protective clothing or gear when participating in strenuous work or sports.
Keep the child's skin clean.
Your own observation of symptoms.
Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
Laboratory blood culture, if blood poisoning is suspected.
Blood poisoning, if bacteria enter the bloodstream.
Brain infection or meningitis, if cellulitis occurs on the central part of the face.
Usually curable in 7 to 10 days with treatment, unless the child has a chronic disease or is receiving immunosuppressive treatment. In that case, cellulitis may lead to blood poisoning and become life-threatening.
HOME CAREUse warm-water soaks (See Glossary) to hasten healing and relieve the child's pain and inflammation.
MEDICATIONYour doctor may prescribe a penicillin drug, such as oxacillin, dicloxacillin or nafcillin, or erythromycin to fight infection. Have the child finish the prescribed dose, even if symptoms disappear.
See Medications section for information regarding medicines your doctor may prescribe.
Your child should rest in bed until the fever disappears and other symptoms improve. Then the child can resume normal activities.
DIET & FLUIDS
No special diet. Vitamin C supplements (250mg to 500mg daily) may hasten healing.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?When signs of infection have decreased, appetite returns, and alertness, strength, and feeling of well-being will allow.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your child has symptoms of cellulitis, especially on the face.
The following occurs during treatment:
-- Fever of 101F (38.3C) or higher.
-- Drowsiness and lethargy.
-- Blister over the area of cellulitis.
-- Red streaks that continue to extend, despite treatment.
New, unexplained symptoms develop. Drugs used in treatment may produce side effects.