Are you having back pain with any of the following?

  • Severe pain, weakness or tingling in your leg(s).
  • Difficulty stopping urination or loss of control of bladder or bowels.
  • Unexplained fever, nausea or vomiting.
  • A history of cancer or unexplained weight loss.

We understand that you are experiencing one or more of the health issues that might be impacting your back pain.

We recommend that you discuss these health issues with your doctor before proceeding with this program.

Once you are cleared by your doctor to do this program, we hope it helps you find relief from your back pain.

Cellulitis

Overview

Most of the time, your skin prevents bacteria from entering your body. Cellulitis is a common infection that can occur when bacteria enters your body through a cut or scratch on your skin. The infected skin can become red, painful, tender, or swollen.

Mild cellulitis goes away on its own or can be treated with antibiotics. You are more likely to get cellulitis if you are recovering from surgery or have another health problem, such as:

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic swelling in your arms or legs
  • A weakened immune system

Cellulitis can become dangerous if the infection spreads.

Call us right away if the redness and swelling are spreading or if you have:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Symptoms

You may have sores or rashes, or the skin around the infection may be:

  • Red
  • Swollen
  • Warm or hot to the touch
  • Tender or painful

If the redness or swelling spreads, call us right away. It’s very important to stop cellulitis from spreading to your blood or organs.

Watch for other signs of infection:

  • Fever or chills
  • Swollen lymph glands
  • Fluid oozing from the infection
  • Feeling ill or very tired
  • Tight, stretched-looking skin
  • Aches or swelling in the joints
  • Nausea or vomiting

Adults usually have cellulitis on their arms, legs, or face. Children usually have it around their eyes or anus.

Symptoms that affect the eye. Cellulitis around the eye or in the eye socket (orbit) is called orbital cellulitis. This serious infection occurs most often in children. It must be treated immediately.

Diagnosis

We usually diagnose cellulitis by giving you a physical exam and asking about your symptoms. Tell us about any recent injuries or skin problems, even if they seem minor.

We may draw a line around the red area on your skin and check the line every 24 hours. This tells us whether the infection is spreading. After you begin treatment the redness may continue to spread for a day or so.

Causes and Risk Factors

Cellulitis:

  • Is caused by bacteria (usually Staphylococcus or Streptococcus) that enters your body through a cut or break in your skin that may be too small for you to notice.
  • Infects the tissues below your skin.

Cellulitis can start in skin that is:

  • Cracked or peeling.
  • Affected by athlete’s foot or jock itch.
  • Irritated by clothing or shoes.
  • Broken by insect stings or animal or human bites.
  • Affected by eczema, acne, or psoriasis.

Your risk for cellulitis is higher if you have:

  • Recently had surgery.
  • An illness or take a medication that weakens your immune system or causes blood circulation problems. 

You can also get cellulitis through contact with raw meat, soil, or other substances that carry bacteria.

Treatments

With proper treatment and self-care, your cellulitis will probably get better within 7 to 10 days.

We recommend that you:

  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Keep your body and clothing clean.
  • Keep the infected area clean and protected.

If you need antibiotics, we:

  • Usually prescribe 7 to 10 days of medication that you take by mouth.
  • Use intravenous (IV) antibiotics for severe infections, or if you don’t get better with oral medication.

Antibiotic treatment may take longer to work if you have a:

  • Chronic illness
  • Weakened immune system
  • Severe case of cellulitis

We can recommend pain medication if needed.

To reduce swelling, prop the swollen area on pillows so that it’s higher than the level of your heart.

Surgery may be needed to drain an abscess caused by cellulitis.

Prevention

The best way to avoid cellulitis is to take good care of your skin. To prevent breaks, cuts, and scratches:

  • Use lotion or ointment that’s designed to keep your skin moist and prevent cracking.
  • Don’t scratch itchy or dry skin.
  • Wear well-fitting shoes that don’t cramp your feet.
  • Wear protective clothing and gear for work or sports.
  • Check your feet and skin daily for sores if you’re diabetic.
  • Treat fungal infections, such as athlete’s foot, right away.

When you have a cut or break in the skin: 

  • Clean it carefully with soap and water.
  • Cover it with a bandage.
  • Change the bandage daily until a scab forms.
  • Watch for redness, pain, drainage, or other signs of infection.

Please let us know if you have questions about keeping your skin healthy.

Complications

If cellulitis has spread to your organs or blood, you may need IV antibiotic treatment. Cellulitis can be life-threatening at this level.

Very rarely, we may need to treat and monitor you in the hospital. This may be necessary if you have:

  • An infection that has spread to your blood, lymph nodes, or organs.
  • A high temperature.
  • Blood pressure problems.
  • Nausea and/or vomiting.
  • A weak immune system because of a condition like cancer.
  • Infection in your eyes.

Additional References:

If you have an emergency medical condition, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital. An emergency medical condition is any of the following: (1) a medical condition that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity (including severe pain) such that you could reasonably expect the absence of immediate medical attention to result in serious jeopardy to your health or body functions or organs; (2) active labor when there isn't enough time for safe transfer to a Plan hospital (or designated hospital) before delivery, or if transfer poses a threat to your (or your unborn child's) health and safety, or (3) a mental disorder that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity such that either you are an immediate danger to yourself or others, or you are not immediately able to provide for, or use, food, shelter, or clothing, due to the mental disorder.

This information is not intended to diagnose health problems or to take the place of specific medical advice or care you receive from your physician or other health care professional. If you have persistent health problems, or if you have additional questions, please consult with your doctor. If you have questions or need more information about your medication, please speak to your pharmacist. Kaiser Permanente does not endorse the medications or products mentioned. Any trade names listed are for easy identification only.