This patient information on Cellulitis is provided by John L. Meisenheimer, M.D. a board certified Dermatologist and skin care specialist based in Orlando, Florida. This information is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice or treatment of a dermatologist or other physician.
What is it? Cellulitis is a deep infection of the skin. it can occur at any age and anywhere on
the skin. Typically it appears as an expanding red, swollen, tender region of the skin. Often it occurs next to a skin injury or surgical site. Chills and fever may occur in some cases.
What causes it? Cellulitis is a deep infection of the skin caused by bacteria.
Is it dangerous? Without treatment cellulitis can be dangerous because the bacteria may spread to the blood stream. Severe cases may require hospitalization.
Can it be cured? Antibiotic treatment usually cures cellulitis. Sometimes the bacteria are resistant to the first antibiotic and a second antibiotic will be needed.
How is it diagnosed? The diagnosis of cellulitis is based on the appearance of the skin. If there is no response to antibiotics I may do cultures of the infected site. I may also do a skin biopsy, where the skin is looked at under the microscope.
Will it spread? Without treatment it can continue to spread.
Is it contagious? Cellulitis is caused by bacteria which can spread to other people. In most cases just being in a room with someone that has cellulitis is not a problem. If you are helping the person dress or clean the wound then precautions should be taken. If you have open wounds, close contact with those that have Cellulitis should be avoided.