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is a skin infection caused by bacteria. Cellulitis usually appears on the legs and feet, arms and hands, or face.
Common signs and symptoms include the following:
- A red, warm, swollen area on your skin
- Pain when the area is touched
- Bumps or blisters (abscess) that may drain pus
- Bumpy, raised skin that feels like an orange peel
Call 911 if:
- You have sudden trouble breathing or chest pain.
Seek care immediately if:
- Your wound gets larger and more painful.
- 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.
- The red, warm, swollen area gets larger.
- You see red streaks coming from the infected area.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- You have a fever.
- Your fever or pain does not go away or gets worse.
- The area 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.
Treatment for cellulitis
may decrease symptoms, stop the infection from spreading, and cure the infection. Treatment depends on how severe your cellulitis is. Cellulitis may go away on its own. You may instead need antibiotics to help treat the bacterial infection and medicines for pain. Your healthcare provider may draw a circle around the edges of your cellulitis. If your cellulitis spreads, your healthcare provider will see it outside of the circle.
Manage your symptoms:
- Elevate the area above the level of your heart as often as you can. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Prop the area on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated comfortably.
- Clean the area daily until the wound scabs over. Gently wash the area with soap and water. Pat dry. Use dressings as directed.
- Place cool or warm, wet cloths on the area as directed. Use clean cloths and clean water. Leave it on the area until the cloth is room temperature. Pat the area dry with a clean, dry cloth. The cloths may help decrease pain.
- Do not scratch bug bites or areas of injury. You increase your risk for cellulitis by scratching these areas.
- Do not share personal items, such as towels, clothing, and razors.
- Clean exercise equipment with germ-killing cleaner before and after you use it.
- Wash your hands often. Use soap and water. Wash your hands after you use the bathroom, change a child's diapers, or sneeze. Wash your hands before you prepare or eat food. Use lotion to prevent dry, cracked skin.
- Wear pressure stockings as directed. You may be told to wear the stockings if you have peripheral edema. The stockings improve blood flow and decrease swelling.
- Treat athlete's foot. This can help prevent the spread of a bacterial skin infection.
Follow up with your healthcare provider within 3 days, or as directed:
Your healthcare provider will check if your cellulitis is getting better. You may need different medicine. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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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.
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.