What Does Cellulitis Feel Like?
Cellulitis is a progressive bacterial infection of the deepest layer of the skin (dermis) and of the fatty tissue under the skin. It most commonly develops on the legs but can occur anywhere. The bacteria usually enter through scrapes, punctures, burns and skin conditions such as eczema.
Cellulitis is most frequently caused by streptococcus and staphylococcus bacteria, which may be located on the skin, where they are harmless until they enter a sore.
Cellulitis feels painful and tender and sometimes hot. The skin becomes swollen and red. Small or large blisters may develop.
Some people with cellulitis may experience fever and chills, fast heart rate, headache and low blood pressure. When not treated quickly, cellulitis spreads, and nearby lymph nodes can become enlarged and painful. If the bacteria enters the bloodstream, this can lead to life-threatening septic shock.
Certain risk factors make people more susceptible to cellulitis. These include poor circulation, diabetes, cracked skin between the toes and use of corticosteroids or other drugs that suppress the immune system.
Treatment includes antibiotics that kill the bacteria and prevent the infection from spreading further. The patient should keep the affected area elevated to reduce swelling. Cool, wet dressings also can relieve swelling and pain.