Thumbnail image of: Skin, Cross Section: Illustration

Cellulitis Discharge Information

What is cellulitis?

It is normal to have some inflammation (redness and swelling) around a wound as it heals. Inflammation and cellulitis are different. Cellulitis is an infection of the skin and tissues under the skin that is caused by bacteria. Group A streptococcus and staphylococcus aureus bacteria live on the skin and are the most common types of bacteria that cause cellulitis. Openings in the skin, such as cuts, scrapes, sores, insect bites or stings, injuries, and surgery incisions may easily become infected with these bacteria. The symptoms of cellulitis spread very fast and may include redness, pain, warmth, fever, and swelling of the skin. The swelling may give the skin a dimpled or “orange peel” appearance. Cellulitis can quickly worsen into a more severe infection. Signs of worsening infection may include swollen lymph nodes, tiredness, sweating and chills, muscle aches, nausea and vomiting, or a high fever.

How can I take care of myself when I go home?

How long it takes to get better depends on the cause and severity of your infection, your treatment, how well you recover, your overall health, and any complications you may have.

Management

  • Your provider will give you a list of your medicines when you leave the hospital.
    • Know your medicines. Know what they look like, how much you should take each time, how often you should take them, and why you take each one.
    • Take your medicines exactly as your provider tells you to.
    • Carry a list of your medicines in your wallet or purse. Include any nonprescription medicines and supplements on the list.
    • Talk to your provider before you use any other medicines, including nonprescription medicines.
  • Your provider may prescribe medicine to:
    • Treat the infection or prevent another infection
    • Treat pain

Appointments

  • Follow your provider’s instructions for follow-up appointments and routine tests.
  • Talk with your provider about any questions or fears you have.

Diet, Exercise, and Other Lifestyle Changes

  • Follow the treatment plan your healthcare provider prescribes.
  • Get plenty of rest while you’re recovering. Try to get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Drink enough fluids to keep your urine light yellow in color, unless you are told to limit fluids.
  • Take good care of your skin:
    • Moisturize your skin every day.
    • Check your feet and skin daily for any sores, cracking, or red areas and treat them right away.
    • Wear well-fitting shoes and protective gloves as appropriate.
    • Carefully trim toenails and fingernails.
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking can delay wound healing and worsen poor blood circulation.
  • Follow activity restrictions, such as not driving or operating machinery, as recommended by your healthcare provider or pharmacist, especially if you are taking pain medicines or muscle relaxants.

Call your healthcare provider if you have new or worsening:

  • Signs of infection that include:
    • The area of skin is more red, tight, or painful.
    • Your skin area is very warm to touch.
    • You have blood, pus, or other fluid coming from any skin opening in the infected area.
    • You have a fever higher than 101.5° F (38.6° C).
    • You have chills or muscle aches.
  • Swelling in the area around or below the infection
  • Pain that is not controlled with your medicine

Ask your healthcare provider about any medicine, treatment, or information that you do not understand.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Acute Care Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-07-30
Last reviewed: 2014-07-31
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 ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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