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Cellulitis - Preventing cellulitis

Not all cases of cellulitis can be prevented. But you can take steps to reduce the risk of developing the condition.

These involve steps to prevent skin wounds, and treating wounds properly when they occur.

Treating skin wounds 

Make sure that any cuts, grazes or bites are kept clean. Wash the damaged skin under running tap water and, if necessary, apply an antiseptic cream.

Keep the wound covered with a plaster or dressing. Make sure you change the plaster or dressing if it becomes wet or dirty. Plasters and dressings will reduce the risk of the wound being damaged further, and they will help to create a barrier against bacteria entering the skin. 

Read more about how to clean a wound.

Hand hygiene 

Wash your hands regularly, particularly when treating or touching a wound or skin condition. 

If you have an itchy skin condition, such as atopic eczema or chickenpox, keep your fingernails clean and short at all times.

If you scratch your skin and your fingernails are short and clean, the risk of skin damage and infection will be reduced.

Keep your skin moisturised 

If your skin is dry or prone to cracking, keep your skin well moisturised. Cracked skin can create an entry point for bacteria.

Preventing recurrent cellulitis

People who experience frequently recurring cellulitis, such as those with lymphoedema (a condition that causes swelling of the arms and legs), may be recommended to begin taking antibiotics on a long-term basis to protect against further infection.

If you are diagnosed with lymphoedema, you may be given a two-week course of antibiotics to take in case you start having the initial symptoms of cellulitis.

If you have more than two episodes of cellulitis in a year, your GP may refer you to a dermatologist (skin specialist) to discuss the option of taking antibiotics on a long-term basis to protect against further infections.

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