Cellulitis is a bacterial infection of the skin and underlying tissues. This condition can cause skin redness, swelling, blistering, and pain when pressed. Most commonly, cellulitis occurs on the skin of the lower extremities, but it can also appear on the skin of the face, arms, eyes, and stomach.

Cellulitis can affect all age groups, including children and the elderly. This condition is also more at risk for someone who has an injury, such as an incision or surgical wound . This is because wounds on the skin can make it easier for bacteria to multiply.

Cellulitis is not contagious, but the infection can spread to the lymph nodes and bloodstream, putting it at risk for the sufferer's life. In addition, cellulitis infection attacks the deeper layers of the skin than erysipelas .

Causes of Cellulitis

Cellulitis is generally caused by a bacterial infection from the Streptococcus and Staphylococcus groups. Both types of bacteria can grow and develop in injured skin, including surgical wounds, scrapes, or insect bites. One type of Staphylococcus bacteria that causes cellulitis is Staphylococcus aureus .

Apart from the two bacteria above, other types of bacteria that can cause cellulitis are Hemophilus influenzae, Pasteurella multocida, Aeromonas hydrophillia, Vibrio vulnificus , or Pseudomonas aeruginosa .

There are a number of factors that can increase a person's risk of developing cellulitis, namely:

  • Have a previous history of cellulitis
  • Are overweight or obese
  • Having poor circulation in the arms, hands, legs and feet
  • Have diabetes
  • Have a weak immune system due to HIV / AIDS or leukemia
  • Taking immunosuppressant drugs
  • Undergoing chemotherapy for cancer treatment
  • Have lymphedema
  • Suffering from other skin diseases, such as tinea pedis , eczema, or psoriasis

Cellulitis Symptoms

Infection and inflammation in cellulitis can cause various complaints on the skin, including:

  • Reddish skin
  • Swollen
  • Feels soft and warm to the touch
  • Blisters
  • Purulent or watery skin
  • Pain when pressed
  • Fever and chills

Cellulitis can also be characterized by swollen lymph nodes around the infected skin or the appearance of reddish spots on the skin.

When to see a doctor

Check with your doctor if you experience complaints as mentioned above. Early treatment is necessary to prevent complications.

Immediately consult a doctor if redness appears that spreads quickly, accompanied by numbness and fever, or redness and swelling of the skin around the eyes or ears appears.

Diagnosis of Cellulitis

The doctor will conduct questions and answers about complaints, the patient's medical history, accompanied by a physical examination of the skin. To confirm the diagnosis, the doctor will carry out several supporting examinations, such as:

  • Blood tests , to detect signs of infection
  • Culture test , to determine the type of bacteria causing the infection
  • Scanning with a CT scan , ultrasound, X-ray , or MRI, to detect whether the infection has spread to other parts of the body

Cellulitis Treatment

Treatment for cellulitis aims to treat the infection, relieve symptoms, and prevent complications. The method used by the doctor will be adjusted to the severity of the infection and the patient's condition, including:

Giving antibiotics

The doctor will give penicillin , clindamycin, macrolides , or cephalosporin class antibiotics . These drugs are generally taken for 5–14 days.

In addition, doctors can also prescribe drugs to treat pain and fever, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.

If the patient's condition does not improve after 10 days of treatment or the symptoms worsen, the patient will be advised to undergo treatment at the hospital. The doctor will give antibiotics, for example ceftaroline fosamil , and other medicines by injection or infusion.


The doctor will recommend the patient to undergo surgery if pus or abscess is found. Surgery is performed to remove pus or abscess and clean dead tissue to speed up the recovery process.

Apart from undergoing treatment from a doctor, patients are also advised to take the following steps to speed up the recovery process:

  • Move the infected limbs regularly so they don't get stiff
  • Drink enough water to prevent dehydration
  • Elevating the affected part of the body when sitting or lying down, to reduce swelling
  • Do not use compression stockings for a while until the cellulitis is completely healed

Cellulitis Complications

If left untreated, cellulitis can cause health complications in the form of:

  • Blood stream infection
  • Sepsis
  • Bone infection
  • Lymphadenitis
  • Gangrene

Cellulitis Prevention

You can reduce the risk of developing cellulitis by taking the following steps:

  • Maintain cleanliness by washing hands regularly with soap and water
  • Keep the skin moist by using lotion
  • Clean the wound using running water and soap
  • Use footwear when outside the home
  • Cut toenails and hands carefully to avoid injury
  • Maintain ideal body weight and exercise regularly, to reduce the risk of lymphedema and obesity
  • Carry out routine checks to the doctor if you suffer from a disease that can weaken the immune system, such as diabetes, leukemia, or HIV/AIDS

People with diabetes or impaired blood flow need to be more careful to prevent skin injuries. Efforts that can be done are to keep the skin moist, use soft and comfortable footwear, and check your feet regularly.

If you find a wound or signs of infection, immediately consult a doctor to get treatment.

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