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Cellulitis (cont.)

What Are Symptoms and Signs of Cellulitis?

Cellulitis is defined as a syndrome of swelling of the skin and subcutaneous tissues, tenderness to touch, and redness of the skin with a diffuse border. It can occur in almost any part of the body. On the head and face, the most common areas are the eye, eyelid, ear, and nose or nasal area. Around the eye and eyelid, it is called orbital cellulitis. Around the nasal area and cheeks, erysipelas is a syndrome of redness and tenderness like cellulitis but is more superficial. The skin in erysipelas looks puffy and slightly pitted, with an orange peel appearance, and the redness has well-defined borders. This appearance is helpful in choosing antibiotics, because it is almost always caused by strep bacteria.

Other common areas of cellulitis are the arm, hand, leg, ankle, and foot. Most commonly, it occurs in areas that may have been damaged or are inflamed for other reasons, such as inflamed injuries, contaminated cuts, or areas with poor skin hygiene. Bad circulation from poor vein function or peripheral arterial disease is a common cause of cellulitis.

What Does Cellulitis Look Like?

The common symptoms and signs of cellulitis are as follows:

  • Redness of the skin or red rash
  • Red streaking of the skin or broad areas of redness
  • Swollen skin
  • Warm skin
  • Skin pain or tenderness
  • Drainage or leaking of yellow clear fluid or pus from the skin; large blisters may occur
  • Tender or swollen lymph nodes near the affected area, or red streaks extending from the red area (lymphangitis)
  • Fever, chills, and malaise can result if the condition spreads to the body via the blood.
  • Pus or a blackened area surrounded by redness, pain, and warmth may be a deep abscess or MRSA (type of staph infection). Very often, MRSA cellulitis is confused with the bite of a brown recluse spider, which can appear very similar.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/21/2017

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Cellulitis »

Cellulitis is a term that describes the inflammatory response caused by bacteria in the skin below the epidermis.

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