Cellulitis is a skin infection caused by bacteria.



  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to kill the bacteria that caused your cellulitis. This may be given as a pill or ointment.

  • Pain medicine: You may be given medicine to take away or decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine.

  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Elevate your arm or leg:

Raise the wound area above the level of your heart as much as possible. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Use pillows, blankets, or rolled towels to prop your arm or leg.

Wear pressure stockings:

Compression stockings are tight stockings that help increase your circulation and decrease swelling in your legs. Wear them as directed.


  • Do not share personal items: Do not share items such as towels, clothing, and razors.

  • Clean exercise equipment: Clean the exercise equipment you use with germ-killing cleaner before and after you use it.

  • Clean your wound: Wash it regularly with soap and water. Watch carefully for signs of infection.

  • Take care of your skin: Use lotion to prevent dry, cracked skin.

  • Wash your hands often: This will help prevent the spread of germs.

Contact your primary healthcare provider if:

  • Your fever or pain does not go away or gets worse.

  • Your wound does not get smaller after 2 days of antibiotics.

  • Your skin is flaking or peeling off.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • Your wound gets larger and more painful.

  • You have a thin, gray-brown discharge coming from your infected skin area.

  • You feel a crackling under your skin when you touch it.

  • You have purple dots or bumps on your skin, or you see bleeding under your skin.

  • You have new swelling and pain in your legs.

  • You have sudden trouble breathing or chest pain.

  • The red, warm, swollen area gets larger.

  • You see red streaks coming from the infected area.

  • You feel weak and dizzy.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Cellulitis (Aftercare Instructions)