Cellulitis

Definition

Cellulitis is an infection of the skin and tissue just below the skin. The infection may occur anywhere on the body. It is most common on the lower legs.

Causes

Cellulitis is caused by a bacterial infection. It may come from bacteria that normally live on the skin or bacteria from other sources. The bacteria enter the skin through a cut or injury. The infection spreads into the surrounding skin.

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase the chance of cellulitis include:
  • A minor injury to the skin such as, a cut, scratch, blister, burn, puncture, or bite
  • Injuries that occur in natural bodies of water
  • A cut or abrasion
  • Bacteria that enter the body through surgical wounds or a catheter in a vein
  • Having certain conditions such as diabetes, HIV, kidney or liver disease, or poor circulation
  • Abusing alcohol or drugs
  • Taking steroids on a regular basis
  • Undergoing surgery
  • Retaining fluids
  • A fungal infection of the foot
  • Handling certain foods, like raw fish, meat, shellfish, poultry, and eggs
Puncture Wound
Puncture Wound
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Symptoms

Symptoms may begin within hours or days and can include:
  • Skin inflammation that begins in a small area and spreads with:
    • Redness
    • Pain or tenderness
    • Swelling
    • Warmth
    • Streaking—spreading of redness
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Fever or chills
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
Cellulitis near the eyes may cause pain with eye movements and should be treated right away.

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