Facial Cellulitis

Cellulitis is an infection of the deep layers of skin. A break in the skin, such as a cut or scratch, can let bacteria under the skin. It may also occur from an infected oil gland (pimple) or hair follicle. If the bacteria get to deep layers of the skin, it can be serious. Cellulitis on the face is especially dangerous if it affects the skin around the eyes.

Cellulitis causes the affected skin to become red, swollen, warm, and sore. The reddened areas have a visible border. You may have a fever, chills, and pain.

Cellulitis is treated with antibiotics taken for 7 to 10 days. Symptoms should get better 1 to 2 days after treatment is started. Make sure to take all the antibiotics for the full number of days until they are gone. Keep taking the medicine even if your symptoms go away.

If not treated, cellulitis can get into the bloodstream and lymph nodes. The infection can then spread all over the body. This causes serious illness.

Home care

Follow these tips:

  • Take all of the antibiotic medicine exactly as directed until it's gone. Don’t miss any doses, especially during the first 7 days. Don’t stop taking it when your symptoms get better.

  • Use a washcloth soaked in cool water (cool compress) on your face to help reduce swelling and pain. Be sure to wash this compress after use to prevent spreading the infection.

  • You may use acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce pain. Don’t use these if you have chronic liver or kidney disease, or ever had a stomach ulcer or gastrointestinal bleeding. Talk with your healthcare provider first.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised. If your infection doesn't go away after finishing the first antibiotic, your provider may prescribe a different one.

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Fever higher of 100.4º F (38º C) or higher, after 2 days on antibiotics

  • Red areas that spread

  • Swelling or pain that gets worse

  • Fluid leaking from the skin (pus)

  • An eyelid that swells shut or leaks fluid (pus)

  • Headache or neck pain that gets worse

  • Abnormal drowsiness or confusion

  • Seizure

  • Change in eyesight

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