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What Causes Cellulitis on the Skin?

Updated on July 7, 2018
Enoch Kane profile image

Mr. Kane has valuable experience in writing articles. His research on topics is adequate, hence he provides accurate information.

Cellulitis of the Eye

Cellulitis of the Eye
Cellulitis of the Eye | Source

What is Cellulitis?

Some of you have experienced that your skin has developed certain changes that may include red and swollen bumps and sometimes the feeling around the area (red and swollen area) is very hot and tender when touched. Well, this feeling and signs may suggest that you have cellulitis and this can sometimes spread very fast to other areas of your skin as well. In this article, we will look at the causes, treatment and preventative measures for cellulitis on the skin.

What is Cellulitis?

Before we proceed, I would like us to have a definition of cellulitis. The disease cellulitis is defined as a bacterial infection of the skin and tissues under the skin (Source: MedicineNet). According to research cellulitis most often affects an individual’s legs, however, it can also affect the scalps, arms, and face in some cases (Source: University of Maryland Medical Center).

Cellulitis of the Leg

Cellulitis of the Leg
Cellulitis of the Leg | Source

Causes, Signs and Symptoms of Cellulitis

The signs and symptoms of a patient suffering from cellulitis may vary depending on the individual; however, the following are the common signs and symptoms of cellulitis (Source: University of Maryland Medical Center);

  1. Fever
  2. Redness of an individual’s skin, thus the affected area.
  3. Swelling of the affected area.
  4. The affected area becomes warm compared to other areas of the skin.
  5. There is a lot of pain around the affected area.
  6. There affected area becomes very tender.

What Bacteria Cause Cellulitis on the Skin?

We have understood that the disease cellulitis is caused by bacteria. Let us find out what bacteria causes this reddish and swollen signs that appear on the skin. According to MedicineNet, the two main bacteria responsible for causing cellulitis on the skin or tissues beneath the skin is are Staphylococcus and Streptococcus. However, cellulitis can also be caused by other bacteria (Source: MedicineNet).

How does Cellulitis occur on the Skin?

Some of you might be wondering how bacteria can cause cellulitis on the skin or the tissues beneath the skin. Well, the two main bacteria that are responsible for this sickness don’t just get into the skin anyhow, but these Bactria penetrate the skin or tissues beneath the skin when there is a break, cut or crack on the skin. These breaks or cracks on the skin sometimes occur as a result of medical surgeries, normal cuts on the skin or even insect bites can expose the skin to bacterial infections that can cause cellulitis.


Cellulitis | Source

Who is at Higher Risk of developing Cellulitis?

There are some other circumstances that might also increase an individual’s chances or risk of developing Cellulitis, and the circumstances include (Source: University of Maryland Medical Center);

  1. Eczema
  2. An athlete’s foot
  3. Diabetes
  4. Weak immune system
  5. Regular intake of drugs that involve the use of injection
  6. Old age
  7. Chickenpox
  8. Shingles
  9. Lymphedema, thus swollen arms or legs

How is Cellulitis on the Skin Diagnosed?

Well the diagnoses for cellulitis even though the symptoms of reddishness and swells coupled with hotness of the affected area on the skin might suggest that one is suffering from cellulitis, it is always best to leave the diagnoses for medical experts as they would be able to fully and properly give a much accurate report on your infection.

Doctors are able to diagnose cellulitis on the skin by just observing the nature of the development on the affected area of your skin. This can be done on sight or sometimes the doctors perform some physical examination on the affected area of your skin, this is usually done to determine the gravity of the infections and might include a blood test to check for bacteria.

Treatments and Prevention of Cellulitis

How is Cellulitis Treated?

Cellulitis just like many other diseases can be treated if diagnosed on time and prompt medical attention is given on time. Usually, your doctor would take some of the following actions when treating cellulitis;

  1. Doctors depending on the severity of the infection might just prescribe painkillers to a patient and advice that the patient has sufficient rest, with emphasis on the affected area. For instance, a doctor would ask a patient to place the affected limb above his heart while he/she rests. This is to control or slow down swellings on the limb (Source: Health Line)
  2. In other cases, a doctor would prescribe oral antibiotics to a patient and this can last between periods of 10 to 21 days, usually depending on the level of infection. With oral antibiotics, if a patient follows the prescription given by his doctor, symptoms of cellulitis are expected to vanish within a couple of days (Source: Health Line).
  3. Patients may be hospitalized when the severity of the infections are considered to be high and coupled with some pre-medical conditions such as; high blood pressure and a low immune system.

How to Prevent Cellulitis on the Skin

It is always advisable that you rather prevent than to seek a cure. well, the same applies to cellulitis; prevention is better than cure. Let us look at some possible preventative measures to avoid getting cellulitis;

  1. Make sure you take very good care of any cut on your skin. Thus, properly clean your wound immediately it occurs, you can use antibiotic solutions or ointments to clean them. This avoids any bacteria from getting into the exposed areas of your skin (wound).
  2. You should also make sure that after applying antibiotics to the wound, you should properly cover them by using bandages, which should be changed regularly to avoid any form of infections.
  3. Visit a doctor to properly examine the wound and give you proper treatment.
  4. Be observant of the wound, check for signs of cellulitis on them, such as redness and severe pains.
  5. Always keep your skin moist to avoid any cracks or to avoid increasing your chances of having any cuts.

The source for the above information is from Medicine Net, Health Line and University of Maryland Medical Center.


Cellulitis can be a life threatening infection, hence it is better that you try as much as possible to prevent it. However, if you notice any symptoms it is best that you consult your doctor on time and seek medical attention to avoid complications and reduce severity.

Do you know anyone Suffering from Cellulitis?

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© 2016 Enoch Kane


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