Cellulitis: The Basics

Cellulitis is a potentially serious bacterial skin infection, and is actually quite common. This condition may appear as a hot, swollen area of the skin. It may be tender and may be red in appearance. In some cases, it may spread rapidly and is sometimes associated with a fever. While it may appear anywhere on the body or face, it is most common on the lower legs. This condition may affect only the skin's surface, may affect underlying tissues in the skin, or may even spread to the bloodstream or lymph nodes. If cellulitus is not treated, it may become life-threatening, so seeking medical attention to treat it immediately is strongly encouraged by most medical professionals. If you experience a rash that is tender, swollen and warm and spreads rapidly, speak with your doctor right away. If fever or pain is also present, seek emergency care.

One or more bacteria that enter through a crack in the skin may be to blame for cellulitis. Areas of recent surgery, injury, cuts, wounds, ulcers, athlete's foot, dermatitis, etc. may serve as the most common entry points for these bacteria. Dry, flaky and/or swollen skin may also be an entry point. Certain spider bites or insect bites may also be to blame. Those with a weakened immune system and those who use intravenous drugs may be at greater risk, as well as individuals with certain skin conditions. A prescription oral antibiotic may be used to treat the condition. If symptoms do not respond or are severe, you may be hospitalized and receive antibiotics intravenously.

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