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- A minor injury to the skin such as, a cut, scratch, blister, burn, puncture, or bite
- Injuries that occur in natural bodies of water
- A cut or abrasion
- Bacteria that enter the body through surgical wounds or a catheter in a vein
- Having certain conditions such as diabetes, HIV, kidney or liver disease, or poor circulation
- Abusing alcohol or drugs
- Taking steroids on a regular basis
- Undergoing surgery
- Retaining fluids
- A fungal infection of the foot
- Handling certain foods, like raw fish, meat, shellfish, poultry, and eggs
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Skin inflammation that begins in a small area and spreads with:
- Pain or tenderness
- Streaking—spreading of redness
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Fever or chills
- Wound culture to test for the bacteria causing the infection
- Blood tests to see if the infection has spread to the bloodstream
- Severe cellulitis
- Diabetes or a weakened immune system
- An infection on your face
- Elevating the infected area higher than your heart
- Changing any dressings as directed by your doctor
- Applying warm compresses
- Protecting your skin from additional injury
- Avoiding scratching or rubbing the area
- Keep your skin clean and dry.
- Moisturize dry skin with lotion.
Avoid injury to the skin:
- Wear protective gear in sports.
- Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts when hiking.
- Wear sandals when at the beach, rather than going barefoot.
- Be careful around animals. Treat pets with respect to avoid bites.
- Do not swim in natural waters if you have cuts or sores.
- Try not to cut yourself during fishing or other water sports.
If a small cut, bite, or other injury occurs, carefully care for the wound:
- Clean cuts or scrapes with soap and water.
- Apply antibiotic ointment.
- Cover wounds with a bandage or dressing.
- Do not scratch wounds.
- Call the doctor right away if the area becomes red or inflamed.
- Seek prompt medical care for larger wounds or bites.
- Wash your hands after coming in contact with fish, poultry, eggs, or meat. Do not handle these items if you have cuts or sores.
- If your legs tend to swell, elevate them several times a day and wear support stockings.
- Get recommended vaccines for children and adults.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 09/2016
- Update Date: 09/09/2014