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Cellulitis: Introduction

Cellulitis is an infection of the skin caused by bacteria. Cellulitis is treatable, but in some people, such as those with diabetes, cellulitis can be serious and lead to gangrene and other potentially life-threatening complications it is not recognized and treated promptly.

Cellulitis forms due to a bacterial infection, most often due to bacteria, such as streptococcus or staphylococcus. These microorganisms enter the skin through a break in the skin, such as sore or cut. They begin to reproduce and make enzymes that break down skin cells.

Cellulitis often occurs on the legs. Symptoms often include swelling, redness, fever and pain that can spread over a larger area. If untreated, cellulitis can spread to the lymph nodes and blood and lead to serious, even life-threatening complications, such as bacteremia and toxic shock syndrome. For more information on complications and symptoms, refer to symptoms of cellulitis.

People at risk for cellulitis and its complications include those who have a compromised immune system due to such diseases as HIV/AIDS or combined immunodeficiencies. People who take certain medications, such as corticosteroids or chemotherapy, which suppress the body's natural immune response, are also at risk for contracting cellulitis. Other risk factors include having diabetes, cancer, animal bites, human bites, severe burns, or severe trauma.

Making a diagnosis of cellulitis begins with taking a thorough medical history, including symptoms, and completing a complete physical examination that focuses on the affected area of skin and potential areas of complications, such as the lymph nodes. Diagnosis can be made by examining the skin and assessing for typical symptoms, such as fever, pain and swelling.

A complete blood count (CBC) is a blood test may be performed. A complete blood count measures the numbers of different types of blood cells, including white blood cells (WBCs). Different types of WBCs increase in number in characteristic ways during an infectious or inflammatory process, such as a cellulitis that is spreading.

A culture and sensitivity test (C and S) may also be performed and involves taking a small sample of the affected skin and blood and growing it in the laboratory. This test determines the type of organism causing the cellulitis, if it is spreading to the blood, as well as which antibiotics would be most effective in treating it.

It is possible that a diagnosis of cellulitis can be missed or delayed because some symptoms, such as fever and headache are similar to symptoms of other diseases of conditions. For more information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of cellulitis.

Treatment of cellulitis varies depending on its severity and extent, and a person's medical history, age, and general health. One type cellulitis that is particularly hard to treat is caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of cellulitis. ...more »

Cellulitis: Inflammation of skin or subcutaneous tissues. More detailed information about the symptoms, causes, and treatments of Cellulitis is available below.

Cellulitis: Symptoms

Symptoms of cellulitis include swelling, redness, inflammation, and pain or tenderness in the infected area of skin, which may grow in size. There can also be bruising, a hot or warm feeling to the infected skin, fever and headache. Red lines may appear on the skin. They run from the infected area along the lines of the lymph vessels toward the lymph nodes.

If ...more symptoms »

Cellulitis: Treatments

The first step in treating cellulitis is preventing it occurrence. Prevention includes maintaining good personal hygiene with frequent hand washing and washing the body with soap and water. It is important that people who are at risk for cellulitis, such as those with diabetes, take good care of their skin, protect it from injury, and seek medical care promptly for ...more treatments »

Cellulitis: Misdiagnosis

A diagnosis of cellulitis may be delayed because some symptoms may initially be nonspecific or mild. These include swelling, redness, and tenderness to the area where the cellulitis is forming. Other symptoms, such as headache or fever may be initially be assumed to be related to various infectious diseases or inflammatory processes, such as ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Cellulitis

Treatments for Cellulitis

Home Diagnostic Testing

Home medical testing related to Cellulitis:

Wrongly Diagnosed with Cellulitis?

Cellulitis: Related Patient Stories

Cellulitis: Deaths

Read more about Deaths and Cellulitis.

Types of Cellulitis

  • Facial cellulitis
  • Arm cellulitis
  • Lower leg cellulitis
  • Perianal cellulitis - affecting anal skin area.
  • more types...»

Diagnostic Tests for Cellulitis

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Cellulitis: Complications

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Causes of Cellulitis

More information about causes of Cellulitis:

Disease Topics Related To Cellulitis

Research the causes of these diseases that are similar to, or related to, Cellulitis:

Misdiagnosis and Cellulitis

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Cellulitis: Research Doctors & Specialists

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Latest Treatments for Cellulitis

Cellulitis: Animations

Research about Cellulitis

Visit our research pages for current research about Cellulitis treatments.

Clinical Trials for Cellulitis

The US based website lists information on both federally and privately supported clinical trials using human volunteers.

Some of the clinical trials listed on for Cellulitis include:

Statistics for Cellulitis

Cellulitis: Broader Related Topics

Cellulitis Message Boards

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User Interactive Forums

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Definitions of Cellulitis:

An acute, diffuse, and suppurative inflammation of loose connective tissue, particularly the deep subcutaneous tissues, and sometimes muscle, which is most commonly seen as a result of infection of a wound, ulcer, or other skin lesions. - (Source - Diseases Database)

An inflammation of body tissue (especially that below the skin) characterized by fever and swelling and redness and pain - (Source - WordNet 2.1)


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