Medical Q&As

Cellulitis - dangerous?

How dangerous is cellulitis?

Cellulitis is an infection of the skin that extends into the fat layer beneath the skin. The bacteria usually enter the skin through a cut or abrasion, or a pre-existing skin disorder such as a leg ulcer. It is treated with antibiotics and usually fully resolves within a couple of weeks. However, in the case of a debilitated person or one that is excessively obese the infection can be more severe in its impact. The infection can spread rapidly through the fat layer beneath the skin and the person can become extremely ill. In that scenario intravenous antibiotics will usually be necessary. If the infection develops while in hospital there is the additional problem that it could be due to resistant bacteria. Community acquired infection is usually straightforward and responds readily to oral penicillin.