Infant cellulitis

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Cellulitis is a bacterial infection affecting the skin and underlying tissue. This can develop on any part of the body but generally affects the lower legs. It is important to note that young children are also susceptible to the infection under the eyelid.

Remember that cellulitis can be serious and if left untreated, it can be dangerous since the infection quickly spreads. Nevertheless, with proper medical care, infant cellulitis can be treated easily.

What are the causes?

A region of swollen, reddened skin that feels warm to the touch is a characteristic sign of cellulitis.

An infant can end up with cellulitis if an infectious bacterial strain such as streptococcus or staphylococcus enters the skin via an open wound. Cracked, dry or peeling skin, insect bites, skin injuries, scratches from animals and even chickenpox are linked to the formation among infants.

Infants with weakened immune systems are also at risk for the infection.

What are the signs?

A region of swollen, reddened skin that feels warm to the touch is a characteristic sign of cellulitis. The child might flinch if the area is touched which indicates that it is painful or tender.

Cellulitis can sometimes cause fever, chills and sweating. Take note that if an infant below 3 months of age has a temperature of 100.4 degrees F or higher, it must be treated as a medical emergency.

Other indications in an infant include:

  • Increased fussiness
  • Drowsiness
  • Vomiting
  • Rash or sore that may or might not drain pus
  • Skin appears to be pulled tight

Management of cellulitis

If treated early, cellulitis can be easily treated with a course of oral antibiotics, generally 7-10 days. In some cases, intravenous antibiotics might be necessary.

A follow-up appointment is set after a few days to ensure that the drug is working and another appointment after the course of antibiotics to check if the infection is eliminated.

The symptoms usually settle within 2-3 days of starting the antibiotics. The symptoms can be remedied at home by keeping the child as calm and quiet as possible during treatment and keep the affected area clean and in a raised position as well as protect any open wounds. Always wash hands using an antibacterial soap and warm water before and after handling the child.

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