Cellulitis

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

Cellulitis facts

  • Cellulitis is a spreading bacterial infection of the skin and tissues beneath the skin.
  • Staphylococcus and Streptococcus are the types of bacteria that are usually responsible for cellulitis, although many types of bacteria can cause the condition.
  • Sometimes cellulitis appears in areas where the skin has broken open, such as the skin near ulcers or surgical wounds.
  • Cellulitis is not contagious.
  • Cellulitis is treated with oral or intravenous antibiotics.

What is cellulitis?

Cellulitis is a bacterial infection of the skin and tissues beneath the skin. Unlike impetigo, which is a very superficial skin infection, cellulitis is an infection that also involves the skin's deeper layers: the dermis and subcutaneous tissue. The main bacteria responsible for cellulitis are Streptococcus and Staphylococcus ("staph"), the same bacteria that can cause impetigo. MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staph aureus) can also cause cellulitis. Sometimes, other bacteria (for example, Hemophilus influenzae, Pneumococcus, and Clostridium species) may cause cellulitis as well.

Cellulitis is fairly common and affects people of all races and ages. Men and women appear to be equally affected. Although cellulitis can occur in people of any age, it is most common in middle-aged and elderly people.

What are cellulitis symptoms and signs?

Cellulitis usually begins as a small area of tenderness, swelling, and redness that spreads to adjacent skin. As this red area begins to enlarge, the affected person may develop a fever, sometimes with chills and sweats, tenderness, and swollen lymph nodes ("swollen glands") near the area of infected skin.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/30/2013

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Cellulitis - Symptoms Question: The symptoms of cellulitis can vary greatly from patient to patient. What were your initial symptoms?
Cellulitis - Treatments Question: What was your treatment for cellulitis?
Cellulitis - Causes Question: What was the cause of your cellulitis?
Cellulitis - Infection Question: Please describe your experience with a cellulitis infection.

Cellulitis Symptoms

Cellulitis usually begins as a small area of pain and redness on the skin. This area spreads to surrounding tissues, resulting in the typical signs of inflammation ? redness, swelling, warmth, and pain. A person with cellulitis can also develop feverand/or swollen lymph nodes in the area of the infection.

STAY INFORMED

Get the Latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!