Visit our foundation to give a gift.
View Locations Near Me
Main Campus – Hartford
Connecticut Children’s – Waterbury
Urgent Care – Farmington
Specialty Care Center – Danbury
Connecticut Children’s Surgery Center at Farmington
Specialty Care Center – Fairfield
Search All Locations
Find a doctor
Find A Doctor
Request an Appointment
Amenities and Services
Who’s Who on Care Team
Getting Ready for Surgery
What to Expect—Picture Stories
Pay a Bill
Understanding the Different Fees
Pricing Transparency and Estimates
Raytheon Technologies Family Resource Center
Family Advisory Council
Legal Advocacy: Benefits, Education, Housing
Electronic Health Records
Share Your Story
Pay a Bill
Login to MyChart
Clinical Support Services Referrals
About the Network
Join the Network
Graduate Medical Education
Continuing Medical Education
MOC/Practice Quality Improvement
Educating Practices in the Community (EPIC)
Learning & Performance
Meet our Physician Relations Team
Request Medical Records
Join our Referring Provider Advisory Board
View our Physician Callback Standards
Read & Subscribe to Medical News
Register for Email Updates
Update Your Practice Information
Refer a Patient
Find and Print Health Info
Health Information For Parents
Cellulitis (sel-yuh-LY-tus) is a skin infection that involves areas of tissue below the surface of the skin.
Cellulitis can affect any area of the body, but it’s most common on exposed body parts, such as the face, arms, or lower legs.
Many different types of
can cause cellulitis. The most common ones are group A streptococcus and Staphylococcus aureus.
Cellulitis usually begins in an area of broken skin, like a cut, bite, or scratch. People who have body piercings can get cellulitis because the piercing hole is a way for bacteria to get beneath the skin’s surface.
But cellulitis can also start in areas where the skin isn’t broken, especially in people who have
conditions or who take medicines that affect the immune system.
Cellulitis is not contagious. It can’t spread from person to person.
Cellulitis begins with a small area of skin that’s:
As this area begins to spread, a child may begin to feel ill and get a fever and, sometimes, chills and sweats. Swollen lymph nodes (or swollen glands) are sometimes found near the area of infected skin.
The time it takes for symptoms to start varies, depending on which bacteria cause the cellulitis. For example, a child with cellulitis caused by Pasteurella multocida, often found in animal bites, can have symptoms less than 24 hours after the bite. But cellulitis caused by other types of bacteria may not cause symptoms for several days.
A doctor can usually diagnose cellulitis by examining the area of affected skin. Sometimes the doctor may check for bacteria by taking blood samples. Positive blood cultures mean that bacteria from the skin infection have spread into the bloodstream. This can cause septicemia (blood poisoning), a serious infection.
For a mild case of cellulitis, doctors prescribe antibiotics. These can usually cure cellulitis in 7 to 10 days. Even if your child feels better sooner than that, it’s important to take all the antibiotics prescribed. Otherwise, the infection can return.
People with severe cases of cellulitis might need treatment in a hospital with intravenous (IV) antibiotics.
To prevent cellulitis, protect skin from cuts, bruises, and scrapes. This isn’t easy, especially in active kids or those who play sports.
Kids and teens should:
When kids do get a cut or scrape, wash it well with soap and water. Apply an antibiotic ointment and cover the wound with an adhesive bandage or gauze. Check wounds often for the first few days to see if any signs of cellulitis begin.
Call your doctor if:
After your child takes antibiotics for 1 or 2 days, the doctor may schedule an office visit to check that the area of cellulitis has improved. This means that the antibiotics are working against the infection.
Find out how to handle minor cuts at home – and when to get medical care for a more serious injury.
Most cuts can be safely treated at home. But deeper cuts – or any wounds that won’t stop bleeding – need emergency medical treatment.
Animal bites and scratches that break the skin can cause infection. Rarely, animal bites can cause rabies, a dangerous, life-threatening disease.
Animal bites and scratches, even minor ones, can become infected and spread bacteria to other parts of the body, regardless of whether the animal is a family pet or a wild animal.
It’s important to protect kids from sharp and dangerous items around and outside the home. Here are ways to prevent cuts and other injuries.
When skin is punctured or broken for any reason, staph bacteria can enter the wound and cause an infection. But good hygiene can prevent many staph infections. Learn more.
An abscess is a sign of an infection, usually on the skin. Find out what to do if your child develops one.
Osteomyelitis is a bone infection that can happen when germs enter an open wound. The easiest way to prevent it is to keep skin clean.
Being stung by a bug is often just irritating and doesn’t require medical treatment. But kids who are highly allergic to stings may need emergency medical care.
Cellulitis is a skin infection that involves areas of tissue just below the skin’s surface. It can affect any part of the body, but it’s most common on exposed areas, such as the face, arms, or lower legs.
Sometimes a bad cut that gets infected can lead to even worse things, like a bone infection called osteomyelitis. The easiest way to protect yourself is to practice good hygiene.
How well a wound heals depends on where it is on the body and what caused it â as well as how well someone cares for the wound at home. Find out what to do in this article for teens.
People can get abscesses on the skin, under the skin, in a tooth, or even inside the body. Most abscesses are caused by infection, so it can help to know what to do. Find out in this article for teens.
Germs are tiny organisms that can cause disease – and they’re so small that they can creep into your system without you noticing. Find out how to protect yourself.
You know they can hurt you, but what are these invisible creatures? Find out in this article for kids.
Kids can benefit from the companionship, affection, and relationships they share with pets. But it’s important to know how to protect your family from infections carried by pets and other animals.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2020 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved.
Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.