Cellulitis Pediatric Care Plan

By David Shafran, MD
Medically reviewed
December 27, 2020

What is Cellulitis?

Cellulitis is a skin and soft tissue infection. The cause is usually a break in the skin from a cut or a scrape through which bacteria enter resulting in inflammation of the surrounding tissue. 

Typical symptoms of cellulitis include:

  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Warmth of the infected area compared to the surrounding skin
  • Swelling
  • Fever

If left untreated, cellulitis can lead to complications such as:

  • An abscess which is an area of infection filled with pus
  • Joint or bone infections
  • Infections within the heart
  • Blood infection spreading the bacteria throughout the body

Cellulitis Diagnosis and Treatment

Cellulitis can be diagnosed by history and physical exam. If an infection is serious or there is concern that it has spread, blood work and imaging might become necessary

Treatment of cellulitis includes:

  • Antibiotics: Oral if possible. If the the infection looks extensive or the child looks very sick, they will be admitted to the hospital to have antibiotics given by IV.
  • Pain medication: Ibuprofen or Motrin as needed until the pain improves.

Sometimes, to monitor the infection, you or the provider can trace the area of redness to determine if the infecting is shrinking or getting larger after starting antibiotics.

Check in With K If…

  • You have general questions about your child’s condition
  • You want general followup for your child
  • You have questions about supportive care
  • Your child’s symptoms don’t go away after treatment but are not alarming

See a Doctor in Person If…

  • If there is no improvement after 48-72 hours of antibiotics
  • If your child develops a persistent fever
  • If your child looks tired or lethargic
  • If your child’s pain worsens
  • If the area of infection develops red streaks or lines coming from it
K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

David Shafran, MD

Dr. Shafran is a board-certified pediatrics physician. He joins K Health from the Cleveland Clinic, where he led a pediatrics practice and completed a fellowship in transplant ethics. He has completed multiple fellowships, including one in pediatric nephrology at Rainbow, Babies & Children's University Hospitals. He received his medical degree from the Sackler School of Medicine in Tel Aviv and completed his medical residency at the Jacobi Medical Center.