Cellulitis is a spreading infection of the skin caused by bacteria. The typical causal agents are two: the gram-positive bacteria Staphylococcus aureus ("staph") and Streptococcus ("strep"). Other bacteria may also cause cellulitis, such as the gram-negative Escherichia coli.
Hot and red spreading rash
Streaking may appear, going toward the center of the body
Swollen glands may or may not occur
Fever, especially in young children and infants
Cellulitis can be caused by the spread of bacteria from the blood, but it is much more commonly seen after an Injury, such as a cut, that allows bacteria from the environment to gain entry below the skin surface.
Usually evident on examination
Culture by saline injection and aspiration (rarely done)
The type of antibiotic used depends upon the location and severity of the infection, and the age of the child
In young children and infants, cellulitis will often be treated with IV antibiotics, given in a hospital.
In older children and teenagers, or with mild infections, oral antibiotics are usually sufficient; however, if the infection spreads despite this therapy, IV medication may be necessary.
Cephalexin (Keflex) or dicloxacillin by mouth in typical cases
Cefazolin intravenously in severe cases
Broad spectrum antibiotics if gram-negative bacteria are suspected (especially diabetics)
Most children respond to antibiotics quickly and recover fully without any future problems.
If the infection is not treated quickly enough, there is a risk that it will spread to other areas; this can be very dangerous, especially in young children.
See your pediatrician immediately.
The best way to prevent cellulitis is to clean scrapes and cuts with soap and warm water, and treat the wounds immediately with topical over-the-counter antibiotics to prevent an infection from starting.