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Cellulitis

Admission and Discharge Instructions

What is cellulitis?

Cellulitis is an infected area of skin showing signs of redness, pain, warmth, and swelling. Sometimes there is swelling of nearby lymph nodes or red streaking from the infected area. If not treated, the infection may spread to deeper tissues or into the bloodstream.

What is the cause?

The infection of the skin and underlying tissues is caused by bacteria that may enter the skin after an animal bite, insect bite or sting, cut, scratch, splinter, puncture, burn, or other type of wound. Sometimes there is no wound and the bacteria come from the bloodstream. Cellulitis can occur on any part of the body.

Why was my child admitted to the hospital?

Main complication: ________________________________________.

__ Needs IV fluids.

__ Needs IV antibiotic or other medication.

__ Other reasons: _________________________________________.

What are the requirements for discharge?

  • _______________________________________________________
  • _______________________________________________________
  • _______________________________________________________

How can I take care of my child?

  • Antibiotics

    Your child's antibiotic is ____________________________. Give __________ every ______ hours for ______ days.

    The antibiotic should be completed as prescribed and should not be stopped even if the symptoms are going away.

  • Heat and elevation

    Apply a warm, moist towel or heating pad to the reddened, affected area three times a day for 20 minutes at a time. Elevate the area as much as possible on pillows above the level of the heart to decrease swelling and pain.

  • Pain control

    Children's acetaminophen or ibuprofen may be given for pain or fever over 102F (38.9C).

  • Other medicines

    _____________________________________________________________

    _____________________________________________________________

  • Additional instructions

    _____________________________________________________________

    _____________________________________________________________

    _____________________________________________________________

When should my child be seen again?

___ Your child needs to be rechecked and has an appointment on _____________ at _______ with _________________________.

___ Your child needs to be rechecked in ________ days. Call your child's doctor to make an appointment.

___ A follow-up appointment is not necessary. Call the doctor if you have any concerns.

How can I help prevent cellulitis?

Whenever your child has any type of skin wound, it is very important to keep the area as clean as possible. The best method for cleaning a wound is to place the injured area under running water for several minutes. Then, clean it with a cotton swab soaked in hydrogen peroxide two to three times a day. Cover wounds with an antibiotic ointment.

If you suspect that your child has cellulitis, seek treatment early. If you notice your child has red, swollen, warm, painful skin, even if you do not see a recent wound, see your child's doctor that day.

When should I call my child's health care provider?

Call IMMEDIATELY if:

  • Your child's fever comes back after going away for 24 hours.
  • The swelling, redness, warmth, or pain spreads or worsens.
  • Your child starts to act very sick.

Call during office hours if:

  • You have questions or concerns.
Written by the Section of Pediatric Emergency Medicine, The Children's Hospital, Denver.
Published by McKesson Provider Technologies.
Last modified: 2003-08-08
Last reviewed: 2006-10-17
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright 2006 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All Rights Reserved.
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