What is Cellulitis?

A Red Area On an Arm or Leg With Fever, Chills, and Shakes

Cellulitis appears as a reddened area of the skin that is painful to the touch, swollen, and typically localized. Although it can appear anywhere on the body, it most typically affects one limb (often, a leg.) It is typically caused by a systemic blood or lymph infection and may be accompanied by symptoms including a generalized feeling of malaise, fever, chills, and shakes. Cellulitis mimics several other conditions (pseudocellulitis), including dermatitis, fungal infections, drug reactions, psoriasis, insect bite reactions, inflammatory breast cancer, and lipodermatosclerosis. Diagnosis must be performed by your licensed healthcare provider. Contact Allegheny Advanced Dermatology Center for an appointment. In case of an emergency, contact 911 for emergency services.

Signs and Symptoms of Cellulitis

Aside from the symptoms that indicate a serious blood, lymph vessel or gland infection, there are several localized signs and symptoms that may indicate the presence of a cellulitis infection. Dimpled skin (peau d’orange) is commonly witnessed. The area will likely be warm to the touch and may exhibit the following signs, as well: blisters, ulcers, abscesses, and purpura (petechiae, ecchymoses, and hemorrhagic bullae.) Cellulitis can rapidly progress into a fatal condition and should be treated as a medical emergency.

Complications of Cellulitis Infection: Gangrene, Blood Poisoning, & Death

Cellulitis is a serious medical condition that requires prompt treatment. Left untreated, a severe case can lead to several conditions that have a high fatality rate, including: necrotizing fasciitis (flesh-eating bacteria), gangrene, sepsis (blood poisoning), spread of infection to organs, pneumonia, meningitis, osteomyelitis, and endocarditis. Decreased circulation, blood pressure, renal function, heart failure, loss of consciousness, and death may occur.

Cellulitis Treatment and Recovery

The standard treatment of cellulitis requires strong antibiotics, a high level of fluid intake, analgesics, rest, and elevation of the affected area. Regular monitoring by the patient to document any progression or regression of the infection is required. Due to antibiotic-resistance, this infection is becoming more difficult to treat. It is critical that you take all prescribed medications EXACTLY as prescribed. Hospitalization and specialty care may be required for complicated cases of cellulitis.

Contact Allegheny Advanced Dermatology Center to schedule an appointment. Call: (814) 944-7109.