Cellulitis is an infection of the skin and tissue under it. This infection is serious and needs to be treated right away. Without treatment the infection can damage skin tissues. It could spread quickly through the bloodstream to other parts of the body and become life threatening.
Cellulitis can be easier to get or more severe if your child has a medical condition, like diabetes or HIV/AIDS, that makes it hard for the body to fight infection.
The infection can be caused by different types of bacteria. Bacteria get into the body through a cut or sore. The infection spreads over the area within a day or two and can affect tissues below the skin.
A particularly dangerous type of cellulitis called orbital or periorbital cellulitis can affect the eyes. Swelling of infected tissue around the eye can trap and damage nerves and permanently affect vision.
Cellulitis most often occurs on the face, arms, or legs, but it can happen anywhere. Symptoms of cellulitis may include:
Your healthcare provider will ask about your child’s symptoms and examine your child. Your child may have tests of blood and discharge from sores. Your healthcare provider may get a sample of pus or use a small needle to obtain a sample of infected skin for lab tests to see what type of bacteria are causing the infection. If a severe infection is suspected, your child may have blood tests or X-rays.
The infection is treated with an antibiotic. If your child is treated with an antibiotic taken by mouth, your provider will probably want to see your child or talk to you 1 or 2 days after your first visit to make sure the antibiotic is working. If the infection does not get better with oral antibiotics, your child may need to be treated at the hospital with IV antibiotics.
If the infection is more severe, your child may need to stay in the hospital to receive intravenous (IV) antibiotics and to be observed to make sure your child is getting better with treatment.
If your child has a sinus infection that is causing orbital cellulitis, your child may need surgery to drain the infection from the eye socket and sinuses.
If treated right away with antibiotics, the infection usually clears up within 1 or 2 weeks.
A skin infection that is not promptly or properly treated may lead to:
Orbital cellulitis can also cause a loss of vision.
Ask your healthcare provider:
Make sure you know when your child should come back for a checkup.