Cellulitis (sel-yu-LY-tis) is an infection of the skin and underlying tissues.
Cellulitis happens when bacteria enter the body through an area of broken skin, like a cut, scratch, or bite. It often affects the face and lower leg, but can develop on any area of the body.
Cellulitis begins as a small red area of inflamed skin that is painful and warm to the touch. As the infection spreads, the red area grows and often fever, chills, and muscle aches develop.
It's important to see a doctor as soon as cellulitis symptoms are recognized, especially in the case of bites. Cellulitis can be successfully treated with antibiotics, but if untreated could become life threatening. If the infection is spreading quickly and is accompanied by a fever, go to the emergency room immediately.
Protecting skin from cuts, bruises, and scrapes can help prevent cellulitis. When wounds do occur, wash the affected site well with soap and water, apply an antibiotic ointment, and cover the injured area with an adhesive bandage.
All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.
|Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The mission of the CDC is to promote health and quality of life by preventing and controlling disease, injury, and disability. Call: (800) CDC-INFO|
|American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.|
|American Academy of Family Physicians This site, operated by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), provides information on family physicians and health care, a directory of family physicians, and resources on health conditions.|
|Cellulitis Cellulitis is an infection of the skin and underlying tissues that can affect any area of the body. It begins in an area of broken skin, like a cut or scratch.|
|Cellulitis Cellulitis is a skin infection that involves areas of tissue just below the skin's surface. It can affect any part of the body, but it's most common on exposed areas, such as the face, arms, or lower legs.|
|Cellulitis Cellulitis is a serious infection that can be mistaken for a bruise, scrape, or insect bite. Find out more in this article for kids.|
|Skin, Hair, and Nails Our skin protects the network of tissues, muscles, bones, nerves, blood vessels, and everything else inside our bodies. Hair and nails are actually modified types of skin.|
|Bites and Scratches Animal bites and scratches, even minor ones, can become infected and spread bacteria to other parts of the body, regardless of whether the animal is a family pet or a wild animal.|
|Dealing With Cuts and Wounds Most cuts can be safely treated at home, but deep cuts and certain other injuries require medical treatment. Find out what to do by reading this printable instruction sheet.|
|Cuts Instruction Sheet Most cuts can be safely treated at home. Deeper cuts - or any wounds that won't stop bleeding - need emergency medical treatment.|
|Wound Drainage Culture Doctors order wound drainage cultures when they suspect wounds are infected.|
|Tetanus Tetanus (also called lockjaw) is a preventable disease that affects the muscles and nerves, usually due to a contaminated wound.|
|Tetanus Tetanus occurs when a certain type of bacterial infection grows in a contaminated wound. Because it can be serious, it's important to get immunized. Find out about tetanus and how to protect yourself against it.|
|Dealing With Cuts Find out how to handle minor cuts at home - and when to seek professional treatment.|
|Staph Infections When skin is punctured or broken for any reason, staph bacteria can enter the wound and cause an infection. But good hygiene can prevent many staph infections. Learn more.|
|Staph Infections Staph bacteria can live harmlessly on many skin surfaces. But the bacteria can get into wounds and cause an infection. Get the details in this article for teens.|
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