ID: 110
Category: Infection
CreatedBy: 1
UpdatedBy: 1
createdon: 25 Jan 2023
updatedon: 27 May 2023

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Author: Khoa Tran
Published Jan 25, 2023
Updated May 27, 2023

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Etymology and Pronunciation

Cellulitis (sel-yuh-LY-tis)
cellula - Latin for "small cell"
-itis - Greek for "inflammation"

History of Cellulitis

One of the earliest known references to a skin infection that may have been cellulitis dates back to ancient Greece, where the physician Hippocrates described an illness that caused redness, swelling, and pain in the skin. However, it is unclear whether this illness was actually cellulitis, as the description could apply to a number of different skin conditions.

The term "cellulitis" itself was not coined until the 19th century, when it was used to describe a bacterial infection of the skin and subcutaneous tissues. At that time, physicians began to recognize the distinct clinical features of cellulitis, such as the characteristic redness, warmth, and swelling, and began to differentiate it from other skin conditions that can cause similar symptoms.

Over the years, researchers have identified a number of different bacteria that can cause cellulitis, including Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes. They have also developed effective treatments for cellulitis, including antibiotics and wound care.

Modern Understanding of Cellulitis

Cellulitis is a skin infection caused by a bacterial infection that affects the deeper layers of the skin. It is a common condition that can affect people of all ages and can be caused by various bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus.

The symptoms of cellulitis typically include redness, swelling, pain, warmth, and fever. The affected skin may also become tender and swollen, and in some cases, there may be a rash or other signs of inflammation. In severe cases, lymphangitis (inflammation of the lymphatic vessels) may occur, which can lead to further complications.

Cellulitis can be confused with other skin conditions such as impetigo, erysipelas, and folliculitis. Impetigo is a bacterial skin infection that affects the top layer of the skin, while erysipelas is a skin infection that affects the upper layers of the skin and is often associated with redness and swelling. Folliculitis, on the other hand, is an infection of the hair follicles that can cause redness, itching, and pustules.

If left untreated, cellulitis can lead to the development of an abscess (a collection of pus). Treatment typically involves antibiotics, such as penicillin, cephalosporins, or clindamycin. In cases of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), other antibiotics may be necessary.

In severe cases, drainage of the infected area may be necessary to remove the pus. This can be done either through a surgical procedure or by making a small incision in the skin to allow the pus to drain. Wound care is also an important aspect of treatment and may involve keeping the affected area clean and covered with a dressing to prevent further infection.

In conclusion, cellulitis is a skin infection that can be caused by various bacteria and can lead to redness, swelling, pain, and fever. Treatment typically involves antibiotics and wound care, and in severe cases, drainage may be necessary. If you suspect that you have cellulitis, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible to prevent complications and ensure proper treatment.

Causes of Cellulitis

Cellulitis typically occurs when bacteria enter the skin through a break or crack in the skin's surface, such as a cut, scrape, or insect bite. In some cases, cellulitis may also occur as a result of a fungal infection or a virus.

Risk factors for developing cellulitis include:

- Skin injuries or conditions that break the skin's surface, such as cuts, scrapes, insect bites, or eczema
- Diabetes or other conditions that affect the immune system
- Obesity or lymphedema, which can cause swelling and fluid buildup in the legs or other areas of the body
- Intravenous drug use or other activities that increase the risk of bacterial infection

In rare cases, cellulitis may also occur as a complication of surgery or other medical procedures.

Treatments for Cellulitis

Treatment for cellulitis typically involves antibiotics and wound care, although the specific approach may vary depending on the severity of the infection, the type of bacteria causing the infection, and other factors.

Antibiotics are the primary treatment for cellulitis, and are typically prescribed for a period of 7-14 days. The specific antibiotic chosen will depend on a number of factors, including the type of bacteria causing the infection, the patient's medical history and allergies, and the severity of the infection. Commonly used antibiotics for cellulitis include penicillin, cephalosporins, macrolides, and fluoroquinolones.

In addition to antibiotics, wound care is an important component of cellulitis treatment. The affected area should be kept clean and dry, and any cuts or open sores should be covered with a sterile dressing. Warm compresses may also be applied to help reduce swelling and promote healing.

In some cases, hospitalization may be necessary for more severe cases of cellulitis or for patients with underlying medical conditions that increase the risk of complications. In these cases, intravenous antibiotics may be necessary to effectively treat the infection.


Swollen skin
Butterfly-shaped rash on the face (malar rash)

Confirmation Tests

- Skin biopsy

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