Cellulitis is a common and potentially serious bacterial infection of the dermis, or the deep layer of the skin as well as the subcutaneous tissues, or the fat and soft tissue layer that are under the skin. Cellulitis should not be confused with cellulite, which is condition in which the skin has a dimpled, lumpy appearance, and it occurs when fat deposits push through the connective tissue beneath the skin.
Cellulitis may first appear as a red, swollen area that feels hot and tender to the touch. It mostly affects the skin on the lower legs, but it can also occur in the face, arms, and other areas.
Cellulitis occurs when certain types of bacteria enter the skin through a cut or a wound. Staphylococcus and Streptococcus bacteria can cause this infection.
Possible symptoms of cellulitis, which usually occur on one side of the body, include
- red area of skin that tends to expand
- red spots
More serious symptoms:
- feeling ill
- muscle aches
Cellulitis nearly always responds to antibiotics, and sometimes the doctor would also prescribe pain relievers. Some people experience a slight worsening of the reddening of the skin while on antibiotics but it usually subsides after a few days. If you experience one or more of the symptoms mentioned above, see your doctor immediately.
While cellulitis usually resolves within 7 to 10 days after you start taking antibiotics, longer treatment is needed if the infection is due a chronic condition or a weakened immune system.
If you have a wound or a crack on your skin, be sure to clean it right away and apply antibiotic ointment. Cover the wound with a bandage and change it regularly until a scab forms. Also, keep the skin moist to prevent cracking and be sure to wear protective equipment when you work or play sports.