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How is cellulitis treated?

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Quick Answer

Cellulitis is usually treated with oral antibiotics, states Mayo Clinic. If oral antibiotics don't improve the infection or if the individual is experiencing a high fever or extensive symptoms, hospitalization and treatment with intravenous antibiotics may be required. Elevating the affected area helps reduce swelling, notes MedlinePlus.

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Cellulitis is a skin infection that causes the affected area to become red, swollen, hot, irritated and painful, according to MedlinePlus. It occurs when bacteria that normally live on the skin enter a break in the skin. Cellulitis often starts as a small skin rash or sore that spreads quickly within 24 hours. The skin sometimes appears tight, glossy or stretched. Other symptoms of cellulitis include fever, chills, muscle aches, nausea and vomiting.

Risk factors for cellulitis include cracked skin between the toes, history of peripheral vascular disease, and skin wounds or ulcers, explains MedlinePlus. Using medications that suppress the immune system and suffering from insect, animal or human bites also increase a person's chance of developing cellulitis. Keeping the skin moist, wearing shoes that fit properly, and keeping the skin protected during work and sports help prevent cellulitis from occurring. In addition, any breaks in the skin should be washed and covered with a fresh bandage every day until a scab develops.

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