Infectious Cellulite

Key concepts

There Infectious Cellulite it is a "bacterial infection of the connective tissue: it is an acute and severe inflammation of the dermis and subcutaneous layers.


Infectious Cellulitis: Causes
The causative agents most involved in infectious cellulitis are Streptococci and Staphylococci. Also Haemophilus influenzae it can cause similar infections, especially in the child. Immunocompromised patients are more at risk of infectious cellulitis than healthy ones.


Infectious Cellulitis: Symptoms
Infectious cellulitis manifests itself with skin redness, inflammation and pain at the site of infection. The patient often has fever. Complications: lymphadenomegaly, papulo-pustular lesions on the skin, extension of the infection in the blood, necrotizing fasciitis


Infectious Cellulite: Drugs
Antibiotics are the therapy of choice for the treatment of infectious cellulitis. It is also possible to take painkillers to relieve pain.


What is Infectious Cellulite?

Infectious Cellulite: Definition

Infectious cellulite is a "bacterial infection rather common and dangerous of the connective tissue, characterized by severe inflammation of the skin and subcutaneous layers.

Not to be confused with cosmetic cellulite, infectious cellulite is triggered by a bacterial insult: at the site of infection, the skin appears red, inflamed, warm and soft to the touch. Infectious cellulite tends to spread rapidly, also infecting the other anatomical sites: when left untreated, the "infection can put the patient's life at risk. According to this, it is understandable how bacterial cellulite constitutes a"urgency medical in all respects.
Despite the danger of the disease, the treatment is rather simple: a specific antibiotic therapy eliminates the causative agent, favoring the complete recovery of the patient.
Due to the multiple affinities, infectious cellulitis is often confused with "erysipelas: an acute bacterial infection of the skin involving the dermis, more superficial layers of the hypodermis and lymphatic vessels (it is therefore more superficial than infectious cellulitis). However, many patients hospitalized with infectious cellulitis are affected also from erysipelas.

Causes and Risk Factors

Infectious Cellulitis: What Are the Causes?

Infectious cellulite is the expression of a bacterial insult: pathogens penetrate the skin through micro-lesions or large wounds.
The bacteria most involved in bacterial cellulitis are:

  1. Streptococci (Streptococcus pyogenes hemolytic beta of group A);
  2. Staphylococci (Staphylococcus aureus): in recent years, cases of bacterial cellulite mediated by the bacterium MRSA (acronym for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). It is a staph resistant to beta-lactam antibiotics, including penicillins and cephalosporins.

Streptococci and Staphylococci are the infectious agents most involved in bacterial cellulitis; however, other aerobic and anaerobic bacteria can also trigger infection.
In the baby, infectious cellulitis can also be caused by the bacterium Haemophilus influenzae.

Infectious Cellulitis: risk factors

Any wound, burn or lesion on the skin surface constitutes a risk factor for infectious cellulitis: in fact, the injuries e the cracks on the skin (cracks, cuts, blisters, burns, insect bites ...) act as possible entry doors for pathogens. For the same reason, drug addicts who take drugs intravenously are more at risk for infectious cellulitis.
Bacterial cellulite can affect anyone; however, patients immunocompromised represent the category most at risk.


The weakened immune system can be favored by leukemia, HIV infections, chronic kidney disease, liver disease, impaired blood circulation and diabetes. The abuse of certain drugs (corticosteroids) also weakens the immune system.


Some have also been identified predisposing diseases infectious cellulite; among these we remember:

  • Fire of S. Antonio;
  • Chickenpox;
  • Eczema;
  • Athlete's foot;
  • Lymphedema: joint swelling makes the skin more susceptible to infections;
  • Obesity: the risk of both infectious cellulite and its relapsing forms increases.

Symptoms and Complications

For further information: Symptoms Infectious cellulite

Infectious cellulite: how does it manifest itself?

Infectious cellulite can involve any part of the body; nevertheless, the lower legs constitutes the most common target of infection.
At the site of infection, the skin is warm and soft to the touch, painful, swollen and red.
The formation of peculiar reddish streaks on the skin is an indication of bacterial spread in the lymphatic vessels: in similar circumstances, bacterial cellulite favors the formation of lymphadenomegaly.
It is not uncommon for the patient with bacterial cellulitis to experience a sudden change in basal temperature (fever).
The clinical picture of the infectious cellulitis patient can become complicated to the point of forming papulo-pustular lesions on the skin. In severe cases, bacteria can infect the blood (bacteremia).
There necrotizing fasciitis it is a possible complication of bacterial cellulitis: it is a rare inflammation of infectious etiology, involving the deep layers of the skin and subcutaneous tissues. Necrotizing fasciitis, rapidly expanding through the connective tissue, constitutes a "medical emergency."

Diagnosis and Treatment

What tests allow you to diagnose Infectious Cellulitis?

L"anamnesis and the "physical examination they are essential for an initial rough diagnosis. The suspicion of infectious cellulitis can be ascertained by blood analysis.
There differential diagnosis it is important to distinguish infectious cellulite from other similar affections:

  1. An "ultrasound of the veins of the lower limbs detects the possible presence of a blood clot β†’ differential diagnosis with deep vein thrombosis;
  2. An X-ray radiograph ascertains or denies the spread of infectious cellulitis to the bones;
  3. The differential diagnosis must also be made with Lyme disease. The blood test may or may not ascertain this anthropozoonosis. Normally, the above test is recommended in countries where the disease is endemic, especially during the summer months.

There skin biopsy or l "cultural examination (blood culture) are generally not necessary: ​​in fact, it is not so immediate to isolate the pathogen involved in infectious cellulitis.

Infectious Cellulite: what is the expected therapy?

The antibiotic treatment of bacterial cellulite should begin within the shortest possible time from the manifestation of the very first symptoms. For mild forms, oral or intravenous administration of drugs such as flucloxacillin or dicloxacillin is sufficient. The moderate and severe variants are treated with oral phenoxymethylpenicillin (a drug also indicated for the treatment of erysipelas); alternatively, administer intravenous benzylpenicillin or ampicillin / amoxicillin.
Infectious cellulite is often accompanied by local pain and irritation: to cope with constant painful perception, the administration of supportive therapy (eg NSAIDs) is recommended.
In most cases, the symptoms of infectious cellulitis subside 24-48 hours after antibiotic administration. However, it is recommended to conclude the therapeutic cycle, even in the case of complete remission of the symptoms, after a few days from the beginning of the treatment: by completing the antibiotic therapy, the risk of recurrence of infectious cellulitis is minimized.


See also: Medicines for the Treatment of Infectious Cellulite »

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