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Discharge Instructions for Cellulitis (Child)

Your child was diagnosed with cellulitis. This is an infection that first affects outer layers of skin. It then may spread more deeply into tissues under the skin. Cellulitis is caused by bacteria. Bacteria can get into the body through broken skin, such as a cut, scratch, sore, or animal bite. Or it can enter the body through a rash that makes a break in the skin. Your child may have been treated in the hospital with IV (intravenous) antibiotics. These antibiotics will often be continued by mouth at home. Below are instructions for caring for your child at home.

Home care

  • Raise your child’s infected area if possible. This will help keep the swelling down.

  • Wash your hands before and after touching any cuts, scratches, or bandages to prevent infections.

  • Keep the infected area clean.

  • If advised, apply clean bandages or gauze dressings as directed by your child’s healthcare provider.

  • Be sure your child finishes all the medicine that was prescribed. If your child doesn’t finish the medicine, the infection may return. Not finishing the medicine can also make any future infections harder to treat.

  • Give your child a pain reliever as directed by the provider. Ask if an over-the-counter pain reliever is appropriate. Also ask for instructions on the right dose for your child’s age and weight.

  • If your child feels warm or seems feverish, take your child's temperature (see "Fever and children" below). Tell your child's provider exactly where you measured the temperature (mouth, rectum, or under the arm).

Follow-up

Make a follow-up appointment as directed by your child’s healthcare provider. 

When to call your child’s healthcare provider

Call the healthcare provider right away if your child has any of the following:

  • Trouble or pain when moving the joints above or below the infected area

  • Discharge or pus draining from the area

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your child's provider (See Fever and children, below)

  • Shaking chills

  • Pain or redness that gets worse in or around the infected area, especially if the area of redness gets larger

  • Swelling in the infected area

  • Vomiting

Fever and children

Always use a digital thermometer to check your child’s temperature. Never use a mercury thermometer.

For infants and toddlers, be sure to use a rectal thermometer correctly. A rectal thermometer may accidentally poke a hole in (perforate) the rectum. It may also pass on germs from the stool. Always follow the product maker’s directions for proper use. If you don’t feel comfortable taking a rectal temperature, use another method. When you talk to your child’s healthcare provider, tell him or her which method you used to take your child’s temperature.

Here are guidelines for fever temperature. Ear temperatures aren’t accurate before 6 months of age. Don’t take an oral temperature until your child is at least 4 years old.

Infant under 3 months old:

  • Ask your child’s healthcare provider how you should take the temperature.

  • Rectal or forehead temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider.

  • Armpit temperature of 99°F (37.2°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider.

Child age 3 to 36 months:

  • Rectal, forehead, or ear temperature of 102°F (38.9°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider.

  • Armpit temperature of 101°F (38.3°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider.

Child of any age:

  • Repeated temperature of 104°F (40°C) or higher, or as directed by the provider.

  • Fever that lasts more than 24 hours in a child under 2 years old. Or a fever that lasts for 3 days in a child 2 years or older.

Online Medical Reviewer: Michael Lehrer MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Rita Sather RN
Date Last Reviewed: 8/1/2016
© 2000-2019 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.