What Is Cellulitis?

Cellulitis is a common and potentially serious bacterial skin infection which can cause redness, swelling, and pain in the affected area. It can occur anywhere on the body but is most common on the legs, arms, and face. Cellulitis is usually caused by Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, or other types of bacteria which can enter the skin through even a small cut or abrasion.

Symptoms of Cellulitis

Common symptoms of cellulitis include:

  • Pain, tenderness, redness, and swelling in the affected area
  • Fever and chills
  • Fatigue and generally feeling unwell
  • Reddish streaks on the skin around the affected area

Treatment for Cellulitis

Cellulitis is usually treated with antibiotics taken orally. In more serious cases, antibiotics may need to be administered intravenously. In addition, local wound care such as keeping the affected area clean and dry, and possibly the use of a cold compress, may help. In severe cases, the infection may require hospitalization for intravenous antibiotics.

Prevention of Cellulitis

Since most cases of cellulitis occur as a result of a break in the skin, one of the best ways to prevent cellulitis is to practice good skin care. This includes washing and drying affected areas regularly, wearing appropriate clothing, and checking the skin regularly for cuts, scrapes, or other breaks in the skin. People who are at a higher risk of developing cellulitis, such as those with a weakened immune system, diabetes, or who regularly comes into contact with contaminated water or soil, should take extra care to protect their skin.