Cellulitis

Cellulitis is a skin infection, usually caused by Streptococcus or Staphylococcus bacteria. Cellulitis usually develops after a break in the skin from a scrape, cut, bite, or puncture, or after a rash.

A health professional should evaluate symptoms that can occur with cellulitis, which may include:

  • Painful, red, hot, swollen skin that may crack, split, or weep fluid.
  • Red streaks extending from the red area toward the body (lymphangitis).
  • Fever and chills.
  • Drainage of pus.
  • Swollen glands.
  • General feeling of illness (malaise).

Facial cellulitis in children requires immediate medical attention to prevent potentially dangerous eye or brain infection. Cellulitis usually is treated with antibiotics, rest and elevation of the affected area, and warm compresses. Cellulitis may be more severe and require hospitalization in people who have decreased blood flow (venous stasis), long-term swelling, diabetes, or an impaired immune system.

Last Updated: March 10, 2009

Author: Maria G. Essig, MS, ELS

Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Alexander H. Murray, MD, FRCPC - Dermatology

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