What is cellulitis?
sepsis) or other dangerous problems.is a common skin infection that happens when bacteria spread through the skin to deeper tissues. Most cases are mild and last several days to a couple of weeks. But can sometimes progress to a more serious infection, causing severe illness that affects the whole body (
Treatment is needed to help control the infection and reduce symptoms.
Some people are at higher risk for edema. They also tend to get sicker from . And they are more likely to get again., such as those who have , a weakened , or
What causes cellulitis?
is caused by bacteria, most often strep or staph. You can get infected after any event that causes a break in the skin, such as:
- A cut or bite.
- A new tattoo or piercing.
- Problems that cause skin breakdown, such as eczema, psoriasis, or a fungal infection like athlete's foot.
Sometimescan occur even if there wasn't an obvious break in the skin.
What are the symptoms?
At first, the infected area will be warm, red, swollen, and tender. If the infection spreads, you may have a, chills, and swollen .
can occur anywhere on the body. In adults, it often occurs on the legs, face, or arms. In children, it is most common on the face or around the anus.
If you have signs of a skin infection, such as warmth, redness, swelling, or pain, see your doctor. Even minor infections may need to be treated.
How is it diagnosed?
Doctors are often able to diagnosebased on your symptoms and a . In most cases, you won't need further testing.
How is it treated?
is treated with . If the infection is mild, you may be able to take antibiotic pills at home.
If the infection is severe, you may need to be treated in a hospital so that you can get IV antibiotics directly into your bloodstream, along with any other care you may need.
Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions about medicine and skin care. To help with yourand to feel better:
- Take all of your medicine as prescribed. Don't stop taking it just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of .
- Elevate the affected area to reduce swelling. Warm compresses may also help.
- Use pain relievers as needed.
Call your doctor if your symptoms get worse or if they haven't started to improve within 48 hours (2 days) after you start taking.
How can you prevent cellulitis?
If you are at risk for, you can take steps to help prevent it. If you've had before, these steps may help prevent it from coming back.
- Take good care of your skin. Keep it clean, and use lotion to prevent drying and cracking.
- Check your feet and legs often. This is especially important if you have .
- Treat any skin infection right away.
- Ask your doctor if you need to take or other medicine on a regular basis to prevent .
- If you have , ask your doctor about wearing compression stockings or sleeves.
Other Works Consulted
- Habif TP (2010).. In Clinical Dermatology, A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Therapy, 5th ed., pp. 335â€“381. Edinburgh: Mosby Elsevier.
- Habif TP, et al. (2011).. In Skin Disease: Diagnosis and Treatment, 3rd ed., pp. 160â€“163. Edinburgh: Saunders.
- Heagerty AHM (2010). Cellulitis and erysipelas. In MG Lebwohl et al., eds., Treatment of Skin Disease: Comprehensive Therapeutic Strategies, 3rd ed., pp. 132â€“134. Edinburgh: Saunders Elsevier.
- Lipworth AD, et al. (2012). Non-necrotizing infections of the dermis and subcutaneous fat: Cellulitis and erysipelas. In LA Goldman et al., eds., Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine, 8th ed., vol. 2, pp. 2160â€“2169. New York: McGraw-Hill.
- Pasternack MS, Morton NS (2015)., , and subcutaneous tissue infections. In JE Bennett et al., eds., Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, 8th ed., vol. 1, pp. 1194â€“1214. Philadelphia: Saunders.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical Reviewer Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine Specialist Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Current as ofOctober 5, 2017