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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 a bacterial skin 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 and other diseases. 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. Cellulitis is not contagious.

Return to Cellulitis

See what others are saying

Comment from: map, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: September 27

My left leg, knee, and foot got swollen for about a week. I went to four different doctors, and I was told that my legs were swelling because I was retaining water. I was showing a little rash on my leg, the doctors asked me a few questions, and one doctor gave me water pills. I told them something was wrong, my legs hurt, and my feet hurt. About five days later, I got off work and my legs were red. The swelling had gone down, but now both my legs were red, hurt, and hot, and no one knew what was wrong. I went to another doctor, she looked and asked me the same questions, and told me I had cellulitis. She gave me doxycycline 100, it has been two days and the reddish area is turning brownish, but it is looking better. I thank her, no one else knew what it was, so if your doctor doesn't know, keep looking.

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Comment from: gabi, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: March 22

I have cellulitis on my legs and have been twice in the hospital last year. Both my legs were red, hot and swollen. Also I have a lot of water, for which I take water pills, and when they became blisters, they opened up and leaked out. I had to go to the wound care clinic, because it would not stop and the pain was from the scale 1-10 was sometimes a 10. So now I'm in the same boat again. I bumped my leg on the dishwasher door and it won't stop. I got bandage on it, but after a few hours everything is totally wet.

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Comment from: Pattycake, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: December 02

I was in a mosquito infected area and got bitten. About a day later I noticed my right leg felt painful to the touch. After two days I couldn't walk or even touch my leg. It was swollen and discolored with cellulitis. I spent a few days in the hospital under large dosages of pain medication and antibiotics.

Was this comment helpful?Yes

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