Cellulitis : Causes, symptoms and treatments


Cellulitis is a painful skin condition caused due to bacterial infection. It first appears as a swollen, red area that feels hot and tender to touch and may rapidly spread to other parts of the body. Although the infection can occur anywhere in the body, it commonly appears in the lower legs. It affects the surface of the skin and the tissues lying immediately below. In more serious cases, cellulitis also spreads to the lymph nodes and bloodstream.


Cellulitis shows different symptoms depending on the severity as well as the stage of the infection. Given below are some common symptoms

  • The affected area feels very tender
  • There is redness and inflammation of the affected area of the skin along with pain
  • The skin feels sore and the rash may quickly spread to a larger area
  • The affected skin usually appears very tight and glossy
  • The affected area feels warm to touch
  • The center of the swelling may have an abscess with accumulated pus
  • The symptoms are usually accompanied by fever

If the infection is more severe, the following symptoms are seen

  • Shaking
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness
  • Muscle ache
  • Dizziness
  • Warm skin
  • Feeling of illness
  • Warm skin

If the cellulitis is spreading more rapidly, the person may feel unusually drowsy, lethargic and experience red streaks and blistering of the skin.


Cellulitis occurs when certain strains of bacteria enter the skin through cuts and openings. It is most commonly caused by the staphylococcus and streptococcus bacteria. These bacteria usually enter the body through punctured skin resulting from cuts, insect bites and surgery. The following conditions may also trigger the occurrence and spread of cellulitis.

  • Weak immunity
  • Skin conditions that break the protective barrier of the skin, such as eczema and athlete’s foot
  • Intravenous drug use
  • Diabetes
  • Earlier cases of cellulitis


Complications can arise if the cellulitis causing bacteria enter the blood stream and then reach the lymph nodes. They also lead to serious health issues if they spread into deeper layers of the skin. The complications include

  • Bone infection
  • Blood infection
  • Inflammation in the lymph vessels
  • Tissue death
  • Gangrene


There are various treatment options for cellulitis. If the condition is mild, the doctors prescribe oral antibiotics for a period of 10 to 21 days. Even if there is significant improvement within just a few days, it is necessary to complete the course of medicine. If the infection is accompanied by pain, the doctors may also give prescriptions for pain killers. It is best to take a lot of rest during the treatment process. Raising the affected limb higher than the heart level while resting and sleeping can be helpful in reducing the swelling.

Cellulitis normally goes away after about 10 days of taking the medication. If it does not, it could be an indication of a highly decreased body immunity. If the affected person has been suffering from other health issues simultaneously, it is best to stay in the hospital during the treatment process.

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