Cellulitis is caused by a bacterial infection. It may come from bacteria that normally lives 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.
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your doctor will also ask about exposure to natural bodies of water or animals. Your skin will be closely examined. The border of the cellulitis on your skin may be marked. This will help to monitor its progress
Tests may include:
Wound culture to test for the bacteria causing the infection
Blood tests to see if the infection has spread to the bloodstream
In severe cases, the infection can lead to tissue death known as
gangrene. It can also spread to the bone.
Images may be taken of your bodily structures. This can be done with:
The goal is to eliminate the infection and reduce discomfort. Most cases resolve after a week or two of treatment.
Hospital care may be needed if you have:
Diabetes or a weakened immune system
An infection on your face
Antibiotics may be taken by mouth or injected into a muscle or vein. The method will depend on the severity of the infection. The antibiotic chosen will depend on the bacteria causing the infection. Pain medication may also be prescribed.
This may include:
Elevating the infected area higher than your heart
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at email@example.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.