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HealthInfo Canterbury


Cellulitis is an infection of the skin and the tissue just under the skin. It's often caused by a small break in the skin where bacteria (germs) can get in. The break in the skin could be from a graze or eczema, for example.

Cellulitis can affect any area of skin, but the leg is the most common place to be affected. It often starts with a small patch of redness and swelling, which can be painful and warm to touch. If the infection spreads, you may get other symptoms such as nausea, fever, or generally feeling unwell.

Cellulitis is most common in children and older people but can affect people of all ages.

How is cellulitis treated?

Cellulitis is treated with antibiotics. If it spreads to other parts of your body, you need to be admitted to hospital for treatment.

When and where should I seek help?

If you have a patch of skin that's red, warm and getting bigger, see your GP or After-hours healthcare service as soon as possible.


Cellulitis can lead to septicaemia (a life-threatening infection of the blood). So it's important that it's treated early.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed June 2018.

Page reference: 53493

Review key: HICEL-21918