Cellulitis is an infection of the skin and tissue just below the skin. It can occur anywhere on the body, but is most common on the lower legs. It is very common and affects approximately 3% of the population annually.


Cellulitis is caused by a bacterial infection, most commonly Group A strep (streptococcal) bacteria. This bacteria enters the skin through a cut or injury and can spread to surrounding skin.

Risk Factors

Cellulitis is fairly common and affects people of all races and ages. Men and women are equally affected. Although cellulitis can occur in people of any age, it is most common in middle-aged and elderly people. Cellulitis is not contagious.

Some risk factors that may increase your risk include:

  • Minor injuries to the skin
  • Having conditions such as diabetes, HIV, kidney or liver disease, or overall poor circulation
  • Morbid obesity
  • Abuse of alcohol or drugs
  • Undergoing surgical procedures
  • Handling raw foods such as raw fish, meat, shellfish, or poultry


Symptoms of cellulitis may include:

  • Fever and chills
  • Swollen glands or lymph nodes
  • Your skin will be painful, red, and tender
  • Your skin may blister and then scab over
  • You may have perianal (around the anus) cellulitis with itching and painful bowel movements


Your healthcare provider may take a sample or culture from your skin lesions to identify the bacteria causing infection. He or she may also recover the bacteria from your blood. The border of cellulitis may be marked on your skin in order to track progress.


National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases



Cellulitis is normally treated by prescription oral antibiotics. Sometimes an injection is required, depending on the severity of the infection. Patients should avoid scratching or rubbing the affected area. You should also elevate the infected area. Severe cases may require hospitalization.

*Source: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases


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