An Overview

Cellulitis (sel-u-LIE-tis) is a common, potentially serious bacterial skin infection. The affected skin appears swollen and red and is typically painful and warm to the touch. It most often affects the skin of the lower legs, although the infection can occur anywhere on a person’s body or face. Cellulitis that is not caused by a wound or catheter most often occurs on the legs and feet. However, it can develop on any part of the body, including the trunk, arms and face. It often develops where there is edema (swelling), poor blood flow or a skin rash that creates breaks in the skin, such as a fungus infection between the toes (athlete’s foot).

Cellulitis usually happens on the surface of the skin, but it may also affect the tissues underneath. The infection can spread to your lymph nodes and bloodstream. Cellulitis usually affects the skin on the lower legs, but it can occur in the face, arms and other areas. It occurs when a crack or break in your skin allows bacteria to enter.


• Stage 1: Cellulite (dimpling) is visible when the skin is pinched (or alternatively when the underlying muscles are contracted).
• Stage 2: Cellulite (dimpling) is visible while standing.Stage
• Stage 3: Cellulite (dimpling) is visible while lying down (supine).

Medical conditions that are closely related to cellulitis include:

Erysipelas, a skin infection that causes raised, firm, bright red patches of skin Usually, it is caused by Streptococcus bacteria. Erysipelas occurs most often on an arm or leg that has been damaged by previous surgery or is chronically swollen due to poor lymph flow (lymphedema). Erysipelas also can develop on the face, typically across the bridge of the nose and upper cheeks.
• Narcotizing fascistic, also known as “flesh-eating strep” — This is an infection of the tissues below the skin, rather than the skin itself. Often, the skin in the area is discolored and extremely painful. Fasciitis is a life-threatening infection that requires prompt medical attention.

Symptoms for Cellulitis

In cellulitis, the affected skin feels warm and is usually red, swollen and painful. The redness can be slight or can stand out compared to surrounding skin. The area of warmth can be felt with the back of the hand, especially when compared to surrounding skin. Possible signs and symptoms of cellulitis, which usually occur on one side of the body, include:
• Red area of skin that tends to expand
• pain and tenderness in the affected area
• redness or inflammation of your skin
• a skin sore or rash that grows quickly
• Tight, glossy, swollen skin
• Swelling
• Tenderness
• Warmth
• Shaking
• Chills
• Feeling ill
• Drowsiness
• Lethargy
• Blisters
• Red streaks
• Fever
• Red spots
• Skin dimpling

Causes of Cellulitis

Cellulitis occurs when bacteria, most commonly streptococcus and staphylococcus, enter through a crack or break in your skin. The incidence of a more serious staphylococcus infection called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is increasing.

Although cellulitis can occur anywhere on your body, the most common location is the lower leg. Bacteria are most likely to enter disrupted areas of skin, such as where you’ve had recent surgery, cuts, puncture wounds, an ulcer, athlete’s foot or dermatitis.

Animal bites can cause cellulitis. Bacteria can also enter through areas of dry, flaky skin or swollen skin.


Your doctor will likely be able to diagnose cellulitis just by looking at your skin. Your doctor can usually diagnose cellulitis based on your recent medical history, your symptoms and a physical examination. Your doctor may recommend tests to look for other conditions that may mimic cellulitis. For example, an ultrasound of the veins in your leg can help detect a blood clot. X-rays can help to determine whether the skin infection has spread to the bone. A physical exam might reveal:
• swelling of the skin
• redness and warmth of the affected area
• swollen glands
Depending on the severity of your symptoms, your doctor may want to monitor the affected area for a few days to see if the redness or swelling spread.


Cellulitis treatment involves taking antibiotics by mouth for 5 to 14 days. Your doctor may also prescribe pain relievers.

Rest until your symptoms improve. Raise the affected limb higher than your heart to reduce swelling.Cellulitis should go away within 7 to 10 days after you start taking antibiotics.

You might need longer treatment if your infection is severe due to a chronic condition or a weakened immune system. Community-acquired MRSA infections may worsen despite antibiotic treatment, because the antibiotics that are most commonly selected to treat cellulitis do not reliably kill this bacteria. If within the first two or three days of treatment you don’t have obvious improvement in your skin pain, redness, and swelling, or if you develop blisters or pus on the surface of your skin rash, contact your doctor immediately.


If you have a break in your skin, clean it right away and apply antibiotic ointment. Cover your wound with a bandage. Change the bandage daily until a scab forms. Watch your wounds for redness, drainage, or pain. These could be signs of an infection.
If your cellulitis recurs, your doctor may recommend preventive antibiotics. To help prevent cellulitis and other infections, take these precautions when you have a skin wound:
• Wash your wound daily with soap and water. Do this gently as part of your normal bathing.
• Apply a protective cream or ointment. For most surface wounds, an over-the-counter ointment (Vaseline, Polysporin, others) provides adequate protection.
• Cover your wound with a bandage. Change bandages at least daily.
• Watch for signs of infection. Redness, pain and drainage all signal possible infection and the need for medical evaluation.

Hope this Symptoms and cure article will be helpful to all. Do not forget to share your valuable suggestions if any.

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