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Cellulitis is a bacterial infection affecting the skin and subcutaneous tissues. The main culprit responsible include staphylococcus aureus and group A beta-hemolytic streptococcus. Once these bacteria enter the skin via a break, they rapidly spread to the tissues beneath the skin. Antibiotics are usually needed to manage the condition.

The condition can affect almost any part of the body. In most cases, it develops on the lower part of the legs and areas where the skin is damaged or inflamed. Remember that anyone at any age can develop cellulitis. Nevertheless, those who smoke, have poor circulation or diabetes are at higher risk.

What are the indications?

Pain or tenderness in an area of skin.

A variety of symptoms can vary from mild to severe such as the following:

  • Warmth
  • Skin redness
  • Swelling
  • Pain or tenderness in an area of skin
  • Leakage or weeping of clear or yellowish pus or fluid

Potential complications

It is important to note that the infection can spread all over the body. In most cases, the lymph nodes might evidently swell, usually as tender lumps in the armpit and groin. Fever is also present along with sweating and vomiting.

What are the causes of cellulitis?

Cellulitis typically develops on skin that has been damaged or inflamed due to the following:

  • Surgical wounds
  • Trauma from burns, insect bites, cuts or abrasions
  • Foreign objects in the skin such as glass or metal
  • Skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, acne or scabies


Antibiotics are mainly used to manage the infection. In most cases, oral antibiotics are usually enough but in severe cases, intravenous antibiotics are required to control and prevent further spread of the infection.

As the infection settles, the antibiotics are switched to the oral variants that can be taken at home for 7-10 days. Many individuals respond to antibiotics in 2-3 days and start to show improvement.

In rare instances, cellulitis might progress to a serious condition by spreading to the deeper tissues. Aside from broad spectrum antibiotics, surgery is oftentimes needed.

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