Cellulitis: Clean it, cover it, check it

Department of Health

NT Health is warning about the threat of cellulitis, which often starts as a small cut sustained camping or fishing, but is one of the leading causes of potentially preventable hospitalisations (PPH) in the Top End.

Cellulitis is a bacterial infection under the skin surface. In the early stages, cellulitis can cause redness, warmth, swelling and pain.

Top End Health Service PPH Project Manager, Jeff Gaden, said about 100 people were admitted to hospital each month with cellulitis from a bacterial infection.

He said that in many cases the infection resulted from small injuries such as cuts and bites sustained while undertaking our favourite Territory pastimes such as camping, fishing, huntng, gardening or playing sports.

“Cellulitis is serious. On average one person ends up in the Intensive Care Unit as a consequence of cellulitis every month,” he said.

“In many cases cellulitis starts as a small injury, even just a scratch.”

“If you get an injury or wound, no matter how small, clean it with an antiseptic, cover it with a dressing and a bandage and check it with your doctor as soon as is practicable,” Mr Gaden said.

“While it can be minor to start with, cellulitis can go very bad very quickly. It’s a bacteria which just loves the Territory’s warm, tropical climate.”

Mr Gaden said most cellulitis infections were from untreated minor injuries of the lower legs and people scratching bites.

He said while Territorians suffered from the bacterial infection all year round, it was timely to remind people of the need to properly treat minor injuries in our tropical environment.

“Territorians love their sports and getting out to many of the wonderful camping and fishing spots we have. We want people to take care and avoid the she’ll-be-right-attitude when it comes to minor injuries, because the evidence shows it could be anything but,” Mr Gaden said.

“Whether it’s a cut, a scratch or even an insect bite you get while you’re camping, fishing or in your garden, don’t ignore it. Do something about it.

“If you want to stay out of hospital with cellulitis, the message is simple. Clean it, cover it, check it.”

/Public Release. View in full here.