General Illness Information

Common Name:


Medical Term: None Specified

Description: An infection of the skin and tissue beneath the skin. Non-contagious, non cancerous. Usually proceeded by skin surface injury. Severe cellulites of face are termed Erysipelas.


  • Many different bacteria may cause infection; most common is from Streptococcus bacteria.
  • The second most common is staphylococcus. Cellulitis due to streptococci tends to spread rapidly over a wide area because this bacterium produces enzymes that prevent tissues from confining the infection.
  • Staphylococcal cellulitis tends to be limited to a smaller area.

Although, cellulitis is usually preceded by skin surface injury, it may occur in skin that has not been damaged.

Most common site for cellulitis is the leg. Usually the infection starts after the skin has been damaged by an injury, ulceration or athlete’s foot.

Infection may spread rapidly if it enters the lymph vessels and the blood stream and then spread throughout the body.


  • Avoid skin damage.
  • Use protective clothing if you participate in strenuous work or contact sports.
  • Keep the skin clean.
  • Avoid swimming if you have a skin lesion.
  • In diabetes, strive to attain good blood sugar control.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Sudden tenderness, swelling, and redness in an area of the skin. A thin red line often extends from the middle of the cellulitis toward the mid-line.
  • Fever, sometimes accompanied by chills and sweats.
  • General ill feeling.
  • Swollen lymph glands nearest the area of the cellulitis (sometimes).

Risk Factors

  • Any injury that breaks the skin.
  • Chronic illness, such as diabetes mellitus, or a recent infection that has lowered resistance.
  • Use of immunosuppressive or cortisone drugs.
  • Intravenous drug use.
  • Burns.

Diagnosis & Treatment

General Measures:

  • For diagnosis, laboratory studies or a skin biopsy may be recommended.
  • Therapy entails:
  • Rest.
  • Elevation.
  • Massive hot wet packs or warm water soaks.
  • Antibiotics.


Antibiotics to fight infection. Finish the prescribed dose, even if symptoms disappear quickly.


Rest in bed until fever disappears and other symptoms improve. Resume your normal activities as soon as symptoms improve.


No special diet.

Possible Complications :

  • Blood poisoning, if bacteria enter the bloodstream.
  • Brain infection or meningitis, if cellulitis occurs on the central part of the face.


Usually curable in 7 to 10 days with treatment, unless the patient has a chronic disease or is receiving immunosuppressive treatment. In that case, cellutlitis may lead to blood poisoning and become life-threatening.

Rare but serious complication is spread of infection under the skin resulting in tissue death as in necrotizing fasciitis


Nothing specified.

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