Cellulitis is an acute infection of the skin and the tissues beneath the skin. Most often, cellulitis develops on the face, arm, or legs.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Redness and swelling of a skin area that worsen as the infection spreads. The skin may look glossy and tight.
  • Pain, tenderness, and/or warmth of the skin area.
  • Red lines or streaks spread from the wound.
  • Lymph nodes near the affected skin area may be swollen.

  • Causes

    A bacterial infection causes cellulitis. Bacteria usually enter the skin layers through a break in the skin, such as a cut or other wound.


    Antibiotics are given by mouth or through an IV. This depends on how serious the infection is. Medicine may be needed to relieve pain.

    Questions to Ask

    Are any of these signs present with an existing skin wound?

  • Increased redness or blisters form on top of the wound.
  • Red lines or streaks spread from the wound.
  • Are any of these signs of an infection present?

  • Redness or tenderness of a skin area.
  • Hot and/or swollen skin.
  • Skin wound with fever, fatigue, muscle aches, and/or general ill feeling.
  • Self-Care / Prevention

    To Prevent Cellulitis

  • Keep your skin clean and protect it from injury.
  • Clean cuts, abrasions, and other skin injuries thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Keep wounds and sores clean, dry, and protected to promote healing.
  • If prescribed medication for an infection, take it as directed by your doctor.

  • To Treat Cellulitis

  • Follow your doctor’s treatment plan.
  • Rest the area of the body that has cellulitis.
  • Elevate the affected body part. This helps to reduce swelling.
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever as directed.
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    Written by American Institute for Preventive Medicine

    Explore Wellness in 2021