Cellulitis is a bacterial infection involving the inner layers of the skin. It specifically affects the dermis and subcutaneous fat. Signs and symptoms include an area of redness which increases in size over a couple of days. The borders of the area of redness are generally not sharp and the skin may be swollen. While the redness often turns white when pressure is applied this is not always the case. The area of infection is usually painful. Lymphatic vessels may occasionally be involved, and the person may have a fever and feel tired.
The typical signs and symptoms of cellulitis is an area which is red, hot, and painful. The photos shown here of are of mild to moderate cases, and are not representative of earlier stages of the condition.
Antibiotics are usually prescribed, with the agent selected based on suspected organism and presence or absence of purulence, although the best treatment choice is unclear. If an abscess is also present surgical drainage is usually indicated, with antibiotics often prescribed for co-existent cellulitis, especially if extensive. Pain relief is also often prescribed, but excessive pain should always be investigated as it is a symptom of necrotizing fasciitis. Elevation of the affected area is often recommended.
Nearly all (98%) of the episodes were of community-acquired disease. Eighty-one patients (76%) were adults (mean age 64 years). Twenty-six patients (24%) were children (mean age 26 months, range 2–108 months).