Cellulitis (sel-u-LI-tis) is an infection of the skin or the tissues underlying the skin; characterized by swelling, redness, warmth and tenderness of the skin. While cellulitis is typically in a localized area, it may spread rapidly throughout the body, creating a life-threating condition, if left untreated. It is important to seek immediate medical attention if the symptoms of cellulitis occur.
The changes in the skin may be accompanied by a fever, and over time the area of redness tends to expand. Small red spots may appear on top of the reddened skin or small blisters may form or burst. Cellulitis occurs when one or more types of bacteria enter through a break in the skin. The two most common types of bacteria that cause cellulitis are streptococcus and staphylococcus.
Although cellulitis can occur anywhere on your body, the most common location is the lower leg. Bacteria is most likely to enter disrupted areas of skin, such as recent surgery sites, cuts, puncture wounds, ulcerations, athlete’s foot or dermatitis. People who have or have had peripheral vascular disease, diabetes, lymphedema, recent cardiovascular, pulmonary or dental procedures or those using immunosuppressive or corticosteroid medications are at increased risk of developing a skin infection. There are also certain types of insect or spider bites that can transmit the bacteria to start the infection.
Treatment of cellulitis is usually a prescription antibiotic prescribed by a medical doctor. Once on the antibiotic, the signs and symptoms typically disappear after a few days. The doctor may also recommend elevating the affected area which may speed recovery.
Symptoms: Localized skin redness and/or inflammation that increases in size as the infection spreads
Tight, glossy, “stretched” appearance of the skin
Pain or Tenderness of the area
Skin lesion/rash – sudden onset, usually with sharp borders, rapid growth
Warmth over the area of redness