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
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.
Cellulitis is most often a clinical diagnosis, readily identified in many people by history and physical examination alone, with rapidly spreading areas of cutaneous edema, redness and heat, occasionally associated with inflammation of regional lymph nodes. While classically distinguished as a separate entity from erysipelas by spreading more deeply to involve the subcutaneous tissues, many clinicians may classify erysipelas as cellulitis.
During the study period, 65,454 patients were hospitalized for cellulitis. Factors associated with prolonged admission included admission to or consultation by a surgical service (OR 2.30, 95% CI 2.17-2.43) and dermatology consultation (OR 4.50, 95% CI 3.92-5.17). Factors associated with mortality included surgical (OR 1.35, 95% CI 1.03-1.76) or infectious disease (OR 1.75, 95% CI 1.39-2.21) consultation.