You're likely to start by seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner. You may then be referred to a doctor who specializes in skin disorders (dermatologist). If you have a severe infection, you may first be seen by an emergency room doctor. You may also be seen by an infectious disease specialist.
Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment and to know what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Write down your symptoms, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Write down key personal information, such as if you've had any recent surgeries, injuries, animal bites or insect bites.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins and supplements you're taking, along with the dosage.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Preparing a list of questions can help you make sure that you cover the points that are important to you. For cellulitis, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- How might I have gotten this infection?
- What kinds of tests do I need? Do these tests require any special preparation?
- How is this treated?
- How long before the treatment starts working?
- What side effects are possible with this medication?
- I have other medical conditions. How do I manage them together?
- Are there any alternatives to antibiotics?
- Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing?
- How can I prevent this type of infection in the future?
- Are there brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
Don't hesitate to ask any other questions you have.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, such as:
- When did you begin experiencing symptoms?
- Do you remember any injuries to that area or insect bites?
- How severe is the pain?
- Does anything seem to improve your symptoms?
- Are you allergic to or intolerant of any antibiotics?
- Have you had this type of infection before?
What you can do in the meantime
You may need a prescription antibiotic to clear your infection. However, until you see your doctor, you can wash the injured area with soap and water and then apply an over-the-counter cream or ointment.
Feb. 23, 2012
- Cellulitis. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merck.com/mmpe/print/sec10/ch119/ch119b.html. Accessed Nov. 10, 2011.
- Baddour LM. Cellulitis and erysipelas. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Nov. 10, 2011.
- Stevens DL. Infections of the skin, muscles, and soft tissues. In: Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Medical; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4. Accessed Nov. 10, 2011.
- Gunderson CG. Cellulitis: Definition, etiology and clinical features. The American Journal of Medicine. In press. Accessed Nov. 10, 2011.
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- Bailey E, et al. Cellulitis: Diagnosis and management. Dermatologic Therapy. 2011;24:229.
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- Gibson LE (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Nov. 16, 2011.