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Last Updated: Feb 16, 2023

Cellulitis - Causes, Signs & Symptoms and Treatment

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Dr. Sandeep Gupta The DermatologistDermatologist • 20 Years Exp.MBBS, MD - Dermatology, observership Dermatosurgery IADVL
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Cellulitis is a very common skin infection which develops due to bacterial action on the skin of a person. The problem of cellulitis can appear at any part of the body and can become a very serious problem if the condition is left untreated. 

Cellulitis is considered as a skin infection which becomes very painful and at first, this condition appears to be a swollen and discolored area which feels very tender and hot when it is touched. The condition of discoloration and swelling can spread very rapidly throughout the body. 

The colour of cellulitis appears to be red or pink on skin areas which are light in shade and on darker areas the colour of the cellulitis can differ from dark brown to gray or purple. The most common areas which get affected with this medical condition of cellulitis are the feet and the lower parts of the legs but you should know that the infection could occur at any place on the body including the face of the person. The infection starts when the skin and underlying tissues get affected and are known to spread throughout the body through the bloodstream and the lymph nodes.

When a person has this infection of cellulitis he should immediately approach a health provider as this infection can prove to be life threatening when it is left untreated.

Causes of cellulitis

This situation of cellulitis usually occurs when bacterias like streptococcus and staphylococcus enter the skin of the person. These bacterias are able to enter inside the skin of the person through a break or crack in the surface of the skin. When a person has skin injuries could get affected by this infection and these skin injuries could be:

  • Surgical wounds
  • Cuts
  • Bug bites

Symptoms of cellulitis

There can be various symptoms of cellulitis and the symptoms could differ depending on the condition of the cellulitis whether it is a normal condition or it has turned into a serious situation. 

The various symptoms of cellulitis are given below:

  • The infected area gets painful and tender 
  • You experience fever
  • The skin becomes inflamed or red due to the infection
  • Occurrence of an abscess with pus
  • There is a quick and rapid growth of rash and skin starts to sore
  • In the infected area there is felt a little bit of warmth or heat
  • The skin in the infected area becomes swollen, glossy, tight etc

The symptoms of cellulitis becomes different when it becomes serious and they are given below: 

This infection of cellulitis is known to spread throughout the body of the infected person when it is left untreated. When the condition spreads throughout the body the symptoms experienced by the person are given below: 

You should contact your health provider immediately when you start experiencing the symptoms of this infection.

Treatment of cellulitis

The treatment of cellulitis typically involves the intake of antibiotics through the mouth for a minimum of 5 consecutive days and it is also a possibility that the doctor may also prescribe some pain relievers. But in some cases, the doctor is known to give intravenous (IV) antibiotics as soon as the doctor  diagnoses the issue or the problem.

You should take proper rest and be comfortable until the condition of the infection starts to improve. An exercise in which you have to raise your limbs over your heart could prove to be very helpful and fruitful in relieving you from swelling because of the condition of cellulitis.

The usual time period in which the problem or condition of cellulitis disappears with the use of antibiotics is 7 to 10 days but you may expect the treatment to go further when the condition or symptoms of the cellulitis are severe. You should not stop taking the medicines even when the condition of the infection or the symptoms have improved within a few days.

Surgery options

In most of the cases, the condition of cellulitis will disappear or go away with the administration of antibiotics but when there is presence of abscess a medical professional will be required to drain it empty.

For draining the abscess empty the health provider will numb the area first with the help of certain medications, then in the abscess a small cut is made by the surgeon through which the pus present inside the abscess flows outside the abscess. This is how the surgery of cellulitis or abscess is done.

The wound is then covered with the help of a dressing which helps the wound to heal and in some cases there is a small scar remaining on the skin afterwards.

Home remedies

Whenever you start noticing or experiencing the symptoms of cellulitis you should immediately contact your health provider for the treatment of the infection because when the condition or infection is left untreated for a long period of time the condition could become life threatening. 

The patient can follow certain steps at home which will help him get relieved of the pain and other symptoms of the infection of cellulitis. In the start, you should wash or clean your skin which is affected by the infection of cellulitis but it should be done very gently and you should take advice from your doctor for proper cleaning and covering of the wound or the infection.


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