Cellulitis is a medical term that is used to describe areas of skin that are swollen, reddened and usually warm. The condition is not usually serious and while the cause typically represents some sort of infection, if left untreated, it can become a serious, even life-threatening condition.
Most often, cellulitis occurs on the lower extremities (or legs), but it can occur anywhere on the body. While it typically affects the surface of the skin and is most easily recognized by the symptoms the patient see’s there, it can spread to underlying tissue, even your bloodstream.
The most common symptoms of cellulitis are:
- Swelling – localized to begin
- Warmth to the area
- Pain (minor)
- Fluid weeping from the skin or blisters
- Blotchy /discolored skin
You should seek treatment for any cellulitis that does not resolve on its own with conservative, over-the counter care OR if you already have any underlying conditions such as diabetes, heart disease or peripheral vascular disease.
If the affected area /cellulitis changes rapidly (rash is tender or spreading); the fever is high (greater than 101) – seek immediate care.