Cellulitis: Treatments, Causes, Symptoms, and More

cellulitis is a common bacterial skin infection. In fact, there are over 14 million cases of cellulitis in the United States each year. The infection can occur anywhere on the body and can lead to dangerous complications if it goes untreated. In this article, we discuss the causes, treatments, and symptoms of cellulitis. Read on to learn more.

What is cellulitis?

cellulitis is an frequently irritating clamber infection. It may first appear as a discolor, swell area that feels hot and offer to the touch. The discoloration and swelling can spread quickly. On lighter peel tones, cellulitis will typically appear crimson or pink. On black skin tones, it may appear darkness brown, gray, or purple. It most much affects the feet and lower legs, although the infection can occur anywhere on a person ’ second body or face. cellulitis affects the hide and the tissues underneath. The infection can spread to your lymph nodes and bloodstream. If you don ’ thyroxine treat cellulitis, it could become life threatening. Get medical help right aside if you have symptoms.

What causes cellulitis?

cellulitis occurs when certain types of bacteria enter the hide through a break in its surface. Staphylococcus and Streptococcus ( streptococcal ) bacteria normally cause cellulitis. cellulitis can start in clamber injuries, such as :

  • cuts
  • bug bites
  • surgical wounds

What are the risk factors for cellulitis?

several factors increase your risk of cellulitis. For exemplar, you ’ re more probably to develop cellulitis if you have a skin condition like eczema or athlete ’ second foot. This is because bacteria can enter your bark through cracks caused by these conditions. A weakened immune system besides increases your risk of developing cellulitis because it can ’ triiodothyronine provide as a lot protection against the infection. other risk factors include having :

  • a cut, scrape, or other injury to the skin
  • diabetes
  • swelling in your arms or legs (lymphedema)
  • obesity

What are the symptoms of cellulitis?

cellulitis symptoms include :

  • 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
  • a feeling of warmth in the affected area
  • an abscess with pus
  • fever

More unplayful cellulitis symptoms include :

  • shaking
  • chills
  • feeling ill
  • fatigue
  • dizziness
  • lightheadedness
  • muscle aches
  • warm skin
  • sweating

cellulitis can spread into early parts of your soundbox if left untreated. If it does spread, you may develop some of the be symptoms :

  • drowsiness
  • lethargy (fatigue)
  • blisters
  • red or dark brown streaks on the skin

Contact your doctor right away if you have symptoms of cellulitis .

Pictures of cellulitis

cellulitis can have a different appearance based on the badness and where it occurs. here are some images of cellulitis.

Is cellulitis contagious?

Cellulitis normally doesn ’ t spread from person to person. It is possible to catch a bacterial skin infection if you have an open cut on your skin and it touches peel that has an active infection. If you do develop cellulitis from a transmit infection, it could be dangerous if you don ’ thyroxine treat it in a timely manner. This is why it ’ mho authoritative to tell your sophisticate equally soon as you notice symptoms of cellulitis .

Are there complications of cellulitis?

Complications of cellulitis can be austere if left untreated. Some complications can include :

  • severe tissue damage (gangrene)
  • amputation
  • damage to internal organs that become infected
  • septic shock
  • death

How is cellulitis diagnosed?

Your doctor of the church will probably be able to diagnose cellulitis equitable by looking at your skin. A physical examination might reveal :

  • swelling of the skin
  • redness and warmth of the affected area
  • swollen glands

Depending on the badness of your symptoms, your doctor may want to monitor the involve area for a few days to see if the discoloration and swelling diffuse. In some cases, your doctor may take lineage or a sample of the wound to test for bacteria .

How is cellulitis treated?

Cellulitis treatment typically involves taking antibiotics by mouth for a minimum of 5 days. Your sophisticate may besides prescribe pain relievers. however, in some cases, doctors will administer intravenous ( IV ) antibiotics deoxyadenosine monophosphate soon as they diagnose symptoms.

You should rest until your symptoms improve. Raising the involve limb higher than your kernel can besides help reduce swelling. cellulitis should go away within 7 to 10 days after you start taking antibiotics. You might need longer discussion if your infection is more severe. even if your symptoms improve within a few days, it is critical to take all the antibiotics your sophisticate order .

When to contact a doctor

Contact your doctor if you :

  • don’t feel better within 3 days after starting antibiotics
  • notice your symptoms get worse
  • develop a fever

You may need to be treated with IV antibiotics in a hospital if you have :

  • a high temperature
  • low blood pressure
  • an infection that doesn’t improve with oral antibiotics
  • a weakened immune system due to other diseases

Surgery options

In most cases, a path of antibiotics will clear up the infection. however, if you have an abscess, a medical professional may need to drain it. For surgery to drain the abscess, you beginning get medication to numb the area. then, the surgeon makes a small cut in the abscess and allows the plutonium to drain out. The surgeon then covers the wind with a dressing so it can heal. You may have a small scratch subsequently .

Home remedies

You should constantly see your doctor beginning if you have symptoms of cellulitis. Without treatment, it can spread and cause a life threatening contagion. however, there are things you can do at home to relieve pain and other symptoms. For a start, you can clean your skin in the area where you have cellulitis. Ask your doctor how to properly scavenge and cover your wreathe. For example, if your peg is affected, raise it above the level of your heart. This will help reduce swelling and relieve pain. here ’ s how to take wish of your skin at base while you recover from cellulitis.

How long does it take to recover from cellulitis?

Your symptoms may worsen for the first 48 hours. however, they should begin to improve 2 to 3 days after you start taking antibiotics. You should always finish any path of antibiotics your doctor order. During your convalescence, keep the wind clean. Follow your doctor ’ mho recommendations for washing and covering the affect area of the skin .

Can you prevent cellulitis?

If you have a break in your skin, clean it right away and apply antibiotic cream. Cover your injure with cream and a bandage until it ’ second amply healed. Change the bandage day by day. Watch your wounds for discoloration, drain, or pain. These could be signs of an infection. Take these precautions if you have inadequate circulation or a condition that increases your gamble of cellulitis :

  • Keep your skin moist to prevent cracking.
  • Promptly treat conditions that cause cracks in the skin, like athlete’s foot.
  • Wear protective equipment when you work or play sports.
  • Inspect your feet daily for signs of injury or infection.

What other conditions may be confused with cellulitis?

many conditions can present symptoms similar to cellulitis .

Cellulitis vs. venous stasis

venous stasis, or venous stasis dermatitis, is a condition normally misdiagnosed as cellulitis. According to the National Eczema Association, venous stasis causes swelling and discoloration, and it can develop into skin ulcers. It is the resultant role of poor circulation in the lower limbs and typically affects the lower branch and ankles. Unlike cellulitis, this condition can affect both sides of the body and is not the leave of bacterial infection. however, your hazard of a skin infection will increase if you develop sores or ulcers as a result of venous stasis .

Cellulitis vs. erysipelas

Erysipelas is another peel infection. Like cellulitis, it can start from receptive wounds, burns, or surgical cuts. Most of the time, the infection is on the leg. Less much, it can appear on the face, arms, or trunk ( torso ). however, cellulitis affects deeper tissue, while erysipelas is often the leave of streptococcus bacteria, and its effects are more superficial. other symptoms of erysipelas include :

  • fever
  • headache
  • nausea
  • chills
  • weakness
  • ill feeling

Doctors treat erysipelas with antibiotics, most often penicillin or a like drug .

Cellulitis vs. abscess

An abscess is a swell pocket of pus underneath the peel. It forms when bacteria — frequently Staphylococcus — get into your body through a ignore or other open wound. When this happens, your immune organization sends in white lineage cells to fight off the bacteria. The attack can form a fix under your skin, which fills with plutonium. The plutonium contains dead tissue, bacteria, and white blood cells. Unlike cellulitis, an abscess looks like a collocate under the skin. You may besides have symptoms like a fever and chills. Some abscesses shrink on their own without treatment. In other instances, you may require antibiotics. In general, abscesses need to open and drain in order to improve .

Cellulitis vs. dermatitis

dermatitis is a general term for a skin rash, and it covers many conditions. These include :

  • atopic dermatitis (eczema)
  • contact dermatitis, an allergic reaction to an irritating substance

Unlike cellulitis, most forms of dermatitis are not due to bacterial infections. Learn more about the types of dermatitis here. General dermatitis symptoms include :

  • discolored skin
  • blisters that ooze or crust
  • itching
  • swelling
  • scaling

Doctors treat dermatitis with cortisone creams and antihistamines to relieve the well up and itch. You will besides need to avoid the kernel that caused the reaction .

Cellulitis vs. DVT

deep vein thrombosis ( DVT ) is a blood clot in one of the abstruse veins, normally in the leg. You can get a DVT after you sit or lie in go to bed for a hanker time period of time, such as on a long plane trip or after surgery. Symptoms of DVT include :

  • pain in the leg
  • redness
  • warmth

It ’ s significant to get medical avail if you have DVT. If the clot breaks free and travels to the lungs, it can cause a life threatening condition called pneumonic embolism ( PE ). Doctors treat DVT with blood thinners. These prevent the clot from getting bigger and stop you from getting newfangled clots.


cellulitis is a common bacterial skin infection that causes inflammation, skin stain, and pain. Complications are uncommon but can be austere. You should constantly contact your doctor if you develop symptoms of cellulitis. Most people fully recover from cellulitis after 7 to 10 days on antibiotics. If left untreated, cellulitis can lead to gangrene or septic daze and may require surgery in severe cases. It is possible to get cellulitis again in the future. You can help prevent this contagion by keeping your skin clean if you get a mown or other open injure. Ask your doctor of the church if you ’ rhenium diffident how to by rights care for your skin after an injury .

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