Cellulitis

ExitCare ImageCellulitis is an infection of the skin and the tissue beneath it. The infected area is usually red and tender. Cellulitis occurs most often in the arms and lower legs.

CAUSES

Cellulitis is caused by bacteria that enter the skin through cracks or cuts in the skin. The most common types of bacteria that cause cellulitis are Staphylococcus and Streptococcus.

SYMPTOMS

  • Redness and warmth.

  • Swelling.

  • Tenderness or pain.

  • Fever.

DIAGNOSIS

Your caregiver can usually determine what is wrong based on a physical exam. Blood tests may also be done.

TREATMENT

Treatment usually involves taking an antibiotic medicine.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

  • Take your antibiotics as directed. Finish them even if you start to feel better.

  • Keep the infected arm or leg elevated to reduce swelling.

  • Apply a warm cloth to the affected area up to 4 times per day to relieve pain.

  • Only take over-the-counter or prescription medicines for pain, discomfort, or fever as directed by your caregiver.

  • Keep all follow-up appointments as directed by your caregiver.

SEEK MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • You notice red streaks coming from the infected area.

  • Your red area gets larger or turns dark in color.

  • Your bone or joint underneath the infected area becomes painful after the skin has healed.

  • Your infection returns in the same area or another area.

  • You notice a swollen bump in the infected area.

  • You develop new symptoms.

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • You have a fever.

  • You feel very sleepy.

  • You develop vomiting or diarrhea.

  • You have a general ill feeling (malaise) with muscle aches and pains.

MAKE SURE YOU:

  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.