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          CELLULITIS

When to Seek Medical Care

Call your doctor if you have any of the following signs or symptoms of cellulitis:

A.   Fevers or chills

B.   Redness on the skin

C.   Red streaks from skin

D.   Increased warmth in the affected area

E.   Swelling

F.   Tenderness

G.   Drainage from the skin

Go to the hospital's emergency department if you have any signs or symptoms of cellulitis, especially the following:

A.   High Fever or chills

B.   Nausea and vomiting

C.   Obvious enlargement or hardening of the reddened area

D.   Increasing pain

E.   Numbness of the reddened or tender area when lightly touched

F.   Other medical problems that may be affected by even a minor infection

Self-Care at Home

Rest the area of the body involved.

Elevate the area of the body involved. This will help decrease swelling and relieve discomfort.

Use over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin). This will decrease the pain as well as help keep the fever down.

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Prevention

It is very important to keep your skin clean by practicing good personal hygiene.

If you notice pain or discomfort from an area of the skin, check to see what it looks like. If it appears inflamed and progresses from one day to the next, you will most likely need treatment.

Avoid situations that may injure your skin, especially if you have swelling from circulatory problems.

Wear sturdy, well-fitting shoes or slippers with loose-fitting cotton socks. Avoid walking barefoot in areas where you do not have a good idea about what you are walking on, for example, in garages, on a littered beach, or in the woods.

If you do injure your skin, wash the area with soap and water and check to make sure that the injury is getting better over the next several days.

Certain injuries may be at greater risk for infection than others. You may need to take antibiotics to prevent infection or have other preventive care. Be sure to contact your doctor if you have injuries such as these:

i.   Animal or human bites

ii.   Puncture injuries deeper than a half-inch, such as stepping on a nail

iii.   Crushed tissue that bleeds, burns that blister, frostbite, or deep injuries with dirt in them

iv.   Injuries in contact with sea water

Find out if you have diabetes or other significant medical conditions, such as liver or kidney disease. These conditions may be present without symptoms. Follow your doctor's instructions for management of these conditions.

Talk to your doctor if you have swelling in your limbs that does not go away.

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