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Cellulitis

An acute, spreading infection of the deep tissues of the skin and muscle that causes the skin to become warm and tender and may also cause fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, and blisters.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Cancer Institute)

About Cellulitis

Erysipelas or cellulitis can develop if bacteria enter the skin through cuts or sores. Both infections make your skin swell and become red, warm and tender. Provided the right treatment is started early enough, these bacterial skin infections usually clear up without any lasting effects. Left untreated, they can sometimes have serious complications.

Antibiotics are effective at treating most infections. It is important to keep your skin protected while it heals. Anti-inflammatory painkillers can help relieve pain and fever symptoms...
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What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Interventions for cellulitis and erysipelas

This review looks at interventions for the skin infections 'cellulitis' and 'erysipelas'. These two terms are now considered different presentations of the same condition by most experts, so they are considered together for this review. For simplicity we used the one term 'cellulitis' to refer to both conditions.

Are two penicillins better than one? A systematic review of oral flucloxacillin and penicillin V versus oral flucloxacillin alone for the emergency department treatment of cellulitis

BACKGROUND: Flucloxacillin either alone or combined with penicillin V is still the first-line antibiotic drug of choice for the treatment of cellulitis in emergency departments (EDs) in Ireland. The rationale for this antibiotic regimen is their anti-staphylococcal and anti-streptococcal activity.

The utility of blood cultures in the management of non-facial cellulitis appears to be low

This review evaluated the utility of blood cultures in the management of patients presenting to the Emergency Department with non-facial cellulitis. It concluded that blood cultures are rarely positive and evidence does not support their routine use. Overall, the limited reporting and possible methodological limitations make it difficult to assess the data, but the authors' cautious conclusions appear reasonable.

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Summaries for consumers

Erysipelas and cellulitis: Can antibiotics prevent cellulitis from coming back?

People who have already had cellulitis can prevent it from returning by taking low-dose penicillin. When used for this purpose, the penicillin is taken every day for up to twelve months. This preventive treatment is safe and well tolerated.

Interventions for cellulitis and erysipelas

This review looks at interventions for the skin infections 'cellulitis' and 'erysipelas'. These two terms are now considered different presentations of the same condition by most experts, so they are considered together for this review. For simplicity we used the one term 'cellulitis' to refer to both conditions.

Erysipelas and cellulitis: Overview

Erysipelas or cellulitis can develop if bacteria enter the skin through cuts or sores. Both infections make your skin swell and become red, warm and tender. Provided the right treatment is started early enough, these bacterial skin infections usually clear up without any lasting effects.

See all (5)

Terms to know

Bacteria
A large group of single-cell microorganisms. Some cause infections and disease in animals and humans. The singular of bacteria is bacterium.
Erysipelas
An acute infection typically with a skin rash. Usually caused by Streptococcus bacteria on scratches or otherwise infected areas. The infection may occur on any part of the skin including the face, arms, fingers, legs, and toes.
Erythema
Redness of the skin.
Lymph Nodes
A rounded mass of lymphatic tissue that is surrounded by a capsule of connective tissue. Lymph nodes filter lymph (lymphatic fluid), and they store lymphocytes (white blood cells). They are located along lymphatic vessels. Also called lymph gland.
Staphylococcus
Staphylococcus is a genus of Gram-positive bacteria. Under the microscope, they appear round (cocci), and form in grape-like clusters. The Staphylococcus genus includes at least 40 species.
Streptococcus
There are many kinds of Streptococcus bacteria. Some can cause diseases such as strep throat, meningitis, and pneumonia. Others keep us healthy and are found in areas of the human body such as the intestines, skin, mouth, and nose.

More about Cellulitis

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See Also: Erysipelas

Other terms to know: See all 6
Bacteria, Erysipelas, Erythema

Related articles:
About Antibiotics to Prevent Cellulitis Returning

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