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What are the Treatments for Cellulitis in Children?

By N. Swensson
Updated May 17, 2024
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Cellulitis is an infection of the skin around a cut, scrape, or bite. The symptoms of cellulitis in children are usually red, inflamed, and painful skin around the area of the wound that can sometimes be accompanied by a fever. If a doctor diagnoses a child with cellulitis, treatment may occur in the hospital or at home, depending on the severity of the condition. The most common treatment for cellulitis in children is antibiotics combined with measures to relieve pain and discomfort. Parents can help to prevent cellulitis by thoroughly cleaning children's cuts and observing the affected areas for signs of infection.

Antibiotics are often used to treat cellulitis in children and come in many forms depending on the part of the body affected and the severity of the condition. In mild cases of cellulitis in children, an oral or topical antibiotic may be given at home. If the condition worsens despite this treatment, hospitalization and IV antibiotics may be necessary. Other more serious problems that may require this type of treatment include facial cellulitis in children, as well as complications like septicemia, which occurs when an infection enters the bloodstream.

If a case of cellulitis is considered mild because it has not spread to other parts of the body and is not causing the child discomfort, antibiotics may not be necessary. Whether or not antibiotics are prescribed, other types of home treatment can help relieve pain and swelling associated with cellulitis. Although it may be difficult with younger children, keeping the infected area immobilized and elevated can reduce pain and swelling. Anti-inflammatory pain medications may also help to alleviate discomfort and bring down a fever. When a child is being treated at home for cellulitis, parents may need to watch closely for signs that the condition is getting worse and call the doctor when necessary.

Cuts, puncture wounds, and animal or human bites that are especially deep may be more likely to become infected. While deeper wounds should be monitored carefully, all injuries that break the skin should be thoroughly cleaned as soon as possible and then covered with an antibiotic or antiseptic ointment and a bandage. The process of cleaning and bandaging should be repeated regularly until the wound has healed. Parents may want to call the doctor for specific instructions or if symptoms of infection occur, such as redness, pain, or swelling. Other signs of possible infection are warm skin around the infected area and a fever.

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