Cellulitis in Children, Babies, Kids and Infants

Babies and kids are active. Perhaps your tot is taking his first steps and skins his knees as he falls the pavement after a wobbly attempt at walking. Preschool children love playgrounds, but they can easily get hurt on the slide, swings, or jungle gym. Older children love sports like football, basketball, softball, and soccer but very few play frequently without bumps and bruises. Even a minor boo-boo can take a turn for the worst and become inflamed. Any time a child goes outside or plays with a pet there is a risk of injury. Parents must remain vigilant over symptoms that could indicate cellulitis so they can seek prompt treatment.

Cellulitis in Babies. What you Need to Know

Some babies have weakened immune systems, especially newborns or preemies. Infectious bacteria such as Staphylococcus or streptococcus invade an open wound, bite, sting, scratch, chickenpox sore, or from cracked skin such as occurs with diaper rash.

Cellulitis in babies can also occur because of a sty or chalazion that springs up on the eyelid or skin around the eye. They refer cellulitis of the eye to as periorbital cellulitis.

Cellulitis in Infants and Toddlers Caused by Dirty Fingernails

Many infants or toddlers have long fingernails because they grow rapidly and many complain if the mom tries to trim them with clippers.

The long fingernails harbor bacteria. If the little one inadvertently scratches their skin then cellulitis in infants or toddlers can develop. Keep the nails cut back is safer than allowing them to grow into long claws.

Cellulitis in Kids From Biting

One of the leading causes of cellulitis in children is biting. Biting at daycares and preschool settings have become a common occurrence. Biters chomp down as a result of frustration, anger, or to seek attention. Human saliva has a polymicrobial nature. Bites spread bacteria and cause systemic infections. Males bite more frequently than females. Psychiatrists theorize that it is for a boy’s need to feel in charge and display strength.

The most common site for bites is the hands and finger followed by the head and neck. Infection often starts 12 hours after the bite. Saliva is home to 50 or more species of bacteria. The high rate of bacteria is why human bites are more dangerous than other injuries. Necrotizing fasciitis occurrence is high. Penile bites often transmit streptococcal toxic shock syndrome and Fournier’s gangrene. Cellulitis in kids from a bite can quickly become a serious health issue.

Diabetes and Cellulitis

Children with diabetes stand an increased risk of developing cellulitis of the extremities. In fact, they face a 30 fold higher risk. Diabetic neuropathy because of motor sensory and autonomic disturbances cause the child to not feel ulcerations that may be serious. Peripheral arterial disease also makes the area more prone to cellulitis. Hyperglycemia is also another underlying factor. The dorsal toes and the plantar section of the foot are at extreme risk for ulceration. Diabetes mellitus with gram‐negative pathogens occurs in about 18 percent of diabetics. Treatment usually involves lactam/‐lactamase inhibitor combinations and hospitalization if the lesion is extreme.

Coping with Cellulitis in Children

No parent wants to see their child suffer. Cellulitis is painful. As the infection advances, the child probably doesn’t feel good, has a fever, and malaise.

You want to make your little better but only antibiotics, time, and the child’s immune system can achieve complete healing.

Here are the best ways to care for your child:

Provide antibiotics correctly as directed. Never stop the antibiotics just because your child says he feels better. It is imperative that the full course is provided for the effective reversal of the infection.

Keep your child’s afflicted area propped up on pillows to reduce the throbbing pain and swelling. Ideally, the wound should be placed higher than the child’s heart.

Wash the infected area twice per day. Avoid using hydrogen peroxide or alcohol unless directed by the pediatrician.

Cover the area with a light layer of petroleum jelly (Vaseline) so it does not stick to the bandage.

Provide your child with a pain reliever such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Follow the dosage directions on the bottle’s label. Never give your child aspirin which can lead to Reye’s Syndrome

How to Prevent Cellulitis

  • It is imperative you practice good hygiene prevention practices to avoid cellulitis.
  • Any time your son or daughter gets a burn, bite, scrape, cut, or splinter then washes the world using water and soap.
  • If your child is a diabetic, then you must always take care of his or her feet using shoes that do not pinch and socks that cushion and protect the skin.
  • Never let your child go barefoot, especially at the beach or any body of freshwater.
  • Watch for fungal foot infections such as Athlete’s foot.

Children and Animals

Children love to play with animals, but they are also very prone to getting clawed or bit. Animal bites and cat scratches can all lead to cellulitis. Children should not interact with animals without supervision to ensure their safety. Always take the time to trim the toenails of animals to prevent accidental clawing.



Article References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2776367/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2776367/#CIT17
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2776367/#CIT20
  4. https://www.uspharmacist.com/article/complications-of-cellulitis-in-diabetic-foot-infections
  5. https://www.journalofhospitalmedicine.com/jhospmed/article/127319/diabetes-mellitus-and-skin-infections