What is Cellulitis?

Cellulitis is a bacterial skin infection  that causes inflammation, skin discoloration, and pain. In the case of Cellulitis, the infected area becomes swollen and red which makes it warm and painful to touch. If it is not treated properly on time, it could become fatal. It arises out of unhygienic habits, a weak immune system.  Although the infection can develop on any area of the skin like hands and feet, it is most commonly seen in the lower leg area of most adults. Let us take a deeper dive into the Cellulitis causes, symptoms, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.

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date-icon 31 Aug 2021 |
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 What Cellulitis Actually is

Due to multiple factors like unhygienic habits, unclean surroundings, weak immune system, certain diseases, etc., many of us tend to acquire skin infections at some point in life. It is a common condition and can be cured if treated on time. One such common skin abnormality is cellulitis infection.


Cellulitis can be a potentially serious bacterial skin infection that makes the infected area swollen and red. Usually, it is painful and warm to touch. If cellulitis is not treated promptly, it can become life-threatening and spread to some extent.


Depending on the area of infection, there are different types of cellulitis:


  1. Periorbital Cellulitis: It develops around the eyes.

  2. Facial Cellulitis: It develops around the eyes, nose, and cheeks.

  3. Breast Cellulitis: It develops around the skin of the breast.

  4. Perianal Cellulitis: It develops around the anal orifice.

 Picture of Cellulitis on Feet

Cellulitis Infection

Image Source: Health Jade


 Besides this, cellulitis can develop on any area of the skin such as hands and feet. Cellulitis is common in the lower leg area in most adults, whereas, in children, it can develop on the face and neck. It is essential that you are aware of the symptoms of cellulitis so that you can proceed to seek appropriate medical attention at the right time.


In this section, we’ve discussed cellulitis symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention in detail. Let us begin by understanding the various cellulitis causes.

What Causes Cellulitis?

Cellulitis is a skin infection occurring due to specific bacteria known as Staphylococcus and Streptococcus. The infection usually starts due to minor skin injuries like:


  • Small cuts

  • Bug bites

  • Surgical wounds

Further, we’ve enlisted a few factors that can increase the risk of contracting cellulitis:


  • If you are overweight or obese

  • Swelling (Edema) or ulceration can put you at risk of developing cellulitis

  • If you have suffered from the infection before, you are likely to acquire it again

  • Exposure to polluted water or infected animals

  • Other skin abnormalities

  • Lymphedema

  • Other health conditions such as kidney disease

  • Diabetes

  • Weak immunity

  • If you have undergone surgery or suffered from an injury recently

Now that you have a brief overview of the causes and risk factors associated with cellulitis, it’s time to know more about the symptoms of cellulitis.

What are the Common Symptoms of Cellulitis?

Common symptoms of cellulitis include the following:


  • The infected skin is painful and tender to touch

  • The skin gets red, and the person can suffer from skin inflammation

  • There could be sore skin or rash that spreads quickly

  • The skin gets tight, glossy, and swollen

  • The infected area feels warm

  • Formation of an abscess

  • Mild fever and chills

If the cellulitis is severe, the symptoms are as follows:


  • Chills

  • Feeling of illness

  • Fatigue

  • Dizziness

  • Light-headedness

  • Muscle aches

  • Warm skin

  • Sweating

Further, the following symptoms could indicate the spread of cellulitis:


  • Drowsiness

  • Lethargy

  • Blisters

  • Red streaks

How Can a Doctor Diagnose Cellulitis?

It is imperative that you contact your doctor immediately for cellulitis diagnosis if you observe any of the above mentioned skin abnormalities. When it comes to cellulitis, the doctor will be able to detect it immediately after looking at the infected skin. A physical exam reveals the following:


  • Skin swelling

  • Skin redness and warmth

  • Swelling of the glands

The doctor will be able to determine the severity of the infection after observing the infected area for a few days. In some cases, the doctor may take your blood sample to test it for bacteria.

How can Cellulitis be Treated?

Doctors usually recommend antibiotics if the person has mild symptoms of cellulitis. However, the treatment of cellulitis infection can need hospitalisation in complicated cases.


The doctor might suggest one or more of the following cellulitis treatments:

  • Medication

Mild cases of cellulitis can be treated with oral antibiotics in 7-14 days. Even though the symptoms may worsen initially, it usually starts getting better in two days. Most patients recover from cellulitis in 2 weeks. However, healing, in severe cases, can take longer. The doctor may continue the oral antibiotics for the long term to avoid any recurrence of the infection.

  • Hospitalisation

Some severe cases of cellulitis may need hospitalisation, especially in the case of:


  • High fever

  • Vomiting

  • Recurrence of the infection

  • No effect of the ongoing treatment

  • Symptoms become more severe

Doctors give antibiotic treatment intravenously when hospitalised in case of severe cases of cellulitis. The drip delivers the medication through a vein in the arm.

Can Cellulitis be Treated with Home Remedies?

Cellulitis is a skin infection that needs proper medical treatment for its complete cure. However, if you are suffering from the infection, you can try the following to relieve the pain until medical attention is provided:


  • Stay hydrated

  • Keep the infected area elevated to reduce swelling and pain

  • Move the infected part of the body regularly to prevent stiffness of muscles

  • Take pain relief medications

  • Do not wear compression stockings until the infection has healed

Besides, you can use natural remedies such as thyme and cypress oil as these have antibacterial properties. However, there is no scientific evidence that plant-based remedies are effective for cellulitis treatment at home.

When Should I See a Doctor?

In case you are suffering from any cellulitis symptoms, it is highly advisable to contact your doctor immediately. They will be able to help you understand the reason for acquiring this skin infection and provide appropriate treatment for the same. If you have started antibiotics for the treatment of cellulitis, you must contact your doctor in the following cases:


  • If you do not feel better within 3 days of starting the medication

  • If your symptoms worsen

  • If you develop a fever

What are the Complications Caused by Cellulitis?

In extreme cases, cellulitis can cause serious complications such as -


  • Permanent Swelling: If cellulitis is not treated on time, you can develop permanent swelling in the infected area.

  • Blood Infection and Sepsis: Sepsis, a life-threatening condition, can occur when the bacteria causing cellulitis enters the blood.

  • Infection in other areas: In rare cases, cellulitis can spread to other places on the body. These include muscles, bones, or heart valves.


If you are suffering from cellulitis symptoms, make sure that you seek appropriate medical assistance. Effective treatment at an early stage can prevent cellulitis complications. Further, we’ve discussed the preventive measures against cellulitis.

What can I Do to Prevent Cellulitis?

The development of cellulitis cannot always be prevented, but there are a few things that can be done to reduce the risk. These include the following:


  • Treat any minor cuts, bites, or wounds on your body immediately. Keeping them clean can reduce the risk of cellulitis.

  • Do not scratch any insect bites and keep your fingernails clean and short.

  • Moisturise your skin daily.

  • Use gloves and long-sleeve tops when gardening.

  • Maintain a healthy weight. You will be at risk of acquiring cellulitis if you are overweight or obese. Use a BMI calculator to determine your healthy weight range and act accordingly.

  • Avoid drinking and smoking.

To Sum Up

Cellulitis is a treatable skin infection. But it can cause severe complications if the right medical assistance is not provided immediately. Further, if you are worried about the cost of treating the life-threatening complications arising due to cellulitis, contact your insurance provider and see whether your health insurance plan covers it.


You can also check out the range of pocket insurance plans available on Bajaj Markets to cover the treatment cost of various skin conditions.


Plus, having the infection once can increase the chances of acquiring it again in the future, especially if good hygiene is not followed. So, make sure that you keep yourself and your surroundings clean at all times. In case you observe any skin abnormalities, visit a doctor and get it treated before it becomes serious.

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FAQs on Cellulitis

  • ✔️Is cellulitis disease contagious?

     Usually, cellulitis does not spread from the infected person to another. However, you can acquire this skin infection if -

    • You have an open cut or fresh wound on your skin that touches the infected person’s skin.

    • People with skin abnormalities such as eczema or athlete’s foot are likely to suffer from cellulitis as well. The bacteria that cause cellulitis can enter your skin through the cracks that these conditions cause.

    • A weak immune system also increases the risk of acquiring cellulitis.

  • ✔️What is the cause of cellulitis?

     Cellulitis is caused due to specific types of bacteria known as Staphylococcus and Streptococcus. The infection usually starts when the bacteria enter your skin through minor skin injuries like small cuts, bug bites, and surgical wounds.

  • ✔️Is surgery necessary for cellulitis treatment?

     A course of antibiotic medication can clear cellulitis infection in most cases. However, in severe cases where you may have an abscess, a doctor may need to perform surgery to drain it out.

  • ✔️Is cellulitis infection a serious disease?

     As a bacterial skin infection, cellulitis can cause redness, pain and swelling of the skin. This infection, if left untreated, can cause serious health issues.  

  • ✔️Can I get cellulitis more than once?

     Yes, you are at a higher risk of getting cellulitis again if you have had it once.