BBC Home

Explore the BBC

h2g2
13th July 2014
Accessibility help
Text only

Guide ID: A691003 (Edited)

Edited Guide Entry


SEARCH h2g2
Edited Entries only
Search h2g2Advanced Search


or register to join or start a new conversation.

BBC Homepage
The Guide to Life, The Universe and Everything.

1. Life / Health & Healing / Medical Conditions, Procedures & Prevention

Created: 26th February 2002
Cellulitis
Contact Us


Like this page?
Send it to a friend!

 

Cellulitis is a type of non-contagious skin infection. It tends to infect the deeper layers of the skin (unlike impetigo which infects the superficial layers), and is usually caused by Staphylococcus or streptococci bacteria. It is unpleasant, and worth avoiding, but can become especially dangerous for diabetics. While not common, the combination of the effects of cellulitis and diabetes may result in death.

Types

There are several different types of cellulitis:

  • Standard Cellulitis commonly affects the lower parts of the leg.

  • Facial Cellulitis usually only occurs in adults over 50 and children under three.

  • Perianal Cellulitis usually only occurs in children.

  • Preseptal and Orbital Cellulitis effects the eyelid. Preseptal is a minor example of cellulitis, while orbital tends to be worse.

Causes

The main cause of cellulitis is through infection by bacteria of some type of skin lesion. This lesion can be as simple as a cut, scrape, bite, burn or blister, or it may also sometimes occur after surgery.

Cellulitis may also appear if you have been taking immunosuppressive medicines or may result from erysiplas, a superficial streptococcal skin infection. People with a history of various other ailments, such as diabetes or ulcers, may also be at risk.

Symptoms

Symptoms can include one or more of the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Raised, painful, warm, inflamed skin
  • Scaly skin
  • Hair loss (over the infected area)
  • General malaise
  • Blistering, pustulations

Treatment

The normal treatment for cellulitis is through the use of antibiotics. However, because the infection attacks the deeper layers of the skin tablets can sometimes be ineffective. In these circumstances it is instead necessary for the antibiotics to be delivered directly into the blood stream via a drip or injection, and the patient will require hospitalisation. Such internal treatment may need to be given for several days. When the infection has started to subside it will then be possible for the patient to leave hospital and continue with a simple course of tablets.

In extreme cases, for example, where the patient is diabetic, the treatment can, unfortunately, result in the need for amputation, where physically practical. While there is also potential for fatality, this is rare.



Clip/Bookmark this page
This article has not been bookmarked.
ENTRY DATA
Written and Researched by:

The Ghost of Polidari

Edited by:

The Apprentice

Referenced Entries:

Vomiting - a Cautionary Tale from New Zealand

Related BBC Pages:

BBC Health
First Aid



CONVERSATION TOPICS FOR THIS ENTRY:

Start a new conversation

People have been talking about this Guide Entry. Here are the most recent Conversations:

TITLE
LATEST POST
wow speedyFeb 6, 2004
erysipelasDec 15, 2003




Disclaimer

Most of the content on h2g2 is created by h2g2's Researchers, who are members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of any external sites referenced. In the event that you consider anything on this page to be in breach of the site's House Rules, please click here. For any other comments, please start a Conversation above.




About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy