Cellulitis is a skin infection that occurs when bacteria get under the skin through a wound or break in the skin. The infection can appear almost anywhere on the body. Although cellulitis is common, people with chronic diseases, fungal infections of the feet, cancer or HIV, acne, recent surgery or bone infection are more at risk for infection. Rarely, cellulitis can lead to scarring. Here are tips you can use to avoid scarring.
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Learn the symptoms of cellulitis and go to the emergency department at the first sign of infection. The sooner you begin treatment, the faster you will recover and the less likely you will have scarring. Common symptoms of cellulitis include: • High fevers • Chills • Nausea and vomiting • Enlargement or hardening of the reddened area • Pain that gets worse • Tenderness • Numbness of the reddened or tender area • Wound drainage
Start antibiotic treatment immediately, take your medication regularly and finish your prescription even if you begin to feel better. Rest and elevate the affected part of your body to relieve swelling. Take over-the-counter pain relievers to reduce discomfort. If you develop an abscess, your infection spreads or you don't start to feel better in two or three days, see your doctor immediately because you may need to be hospitalised. If your infection is allowed to spread, it's more likely that you will have scarring.
Once your cellulitis infection starts to heal, there are things you can do to avoid scarring. Moisturise the affected areas with a silicone cream, cover it and leave on overnight. Massage your damaged skin lightly in a circular motion. Cover the damaged area to keep it from being rubbed or scraped. Clean the wound daily with warm water and mild soap and apply an antibiotic cream. Take a multivitamin that contains vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene and zinc.
Some things can make scarring worse. Don't use hydrogen peroxide on the wound. Avoid moving or overusing the affected area to prevent reopening any wounds. Reopened wounds tend to form larger scars. Don't expose your infected skin to sunlight, which can dry or even sunburn your already damaged skin.
Tips and warnings
- With early treatment, most people with cellulitis begin to show improvement after two or three days on antibiotics and complete healing within seven to ten days with no scarring.
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