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Illness & Conditions - Definition

Cellulitis

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 doctor 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 a hospital stay for people who have decreased blood flow (venous stasis), long-term swelling, diabetes, or an impaired immune system.

Last Revised: February 14, 2011

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Alexander H. Murray, MD, FRCPC - Dermatology

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