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Date issued: July 2021

Review date: July 2023

Ref: D-363

PDF:  Cellulitis final July 2021.pdf [pdf] 915KB


Understanding your body:

Under your skin is a layer of fat and a layer of tissue.

Tissue is the name for a group of cells. This is a different type of tissue from the one you blow your nose with.

What is cellulitis:

Cellulitis is an infection of your skin, fat and tissue layers.

What causes cellulitis:

Your skin normally stops bacteria from getting into your body.

A small cut or scratch allows bacteria in. The bacteria travels under your skin and causes an infection.


What are the symptoms of cellulitis:

Your skin:

  • will feel warm
  • may be swollen
  • will go red

You may feel ill and have a temperature.

Cellulitis seems to affect the lower leg; from your knee down to your ankle.

Is cellulitis serious:

Cellulitis can spread from a small area of skin to a large area of skin.  It is important to get treatment right away so it does not become serious.

Treating cellulitis

Antibiotics are used to treat cellulitis. It is important to take the whole course (all of them).

People with very bad cellulitis may need to come into hospital to have their antibiotic through a drip.

Moisturisers and soap substitutes can be put on sore areas of skin to stop them from becoming too dry.

You can take paracetamol to help with any pain or high temperature and ibuprofen to help any swelling.

These can be bought at most supermarkets and chemists.

Painkillers can make you constipated (find it hard to poo) so ask your doctor about side effects of your treatment.


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