Is Cellulitis Contagious?
Cellulitis is a common skin infection typically caused by Staphylococcus or Streptococcus bacteria. It affects your skin, causing inflammation, redness, and pain.
The human body is covered by a wide array of different bacteria, and these microbes don’t typically cause any issues while on the surface of the skin.
However, bacteria can cause cellulitis if they get into the body through a break in the skin, such as from cuts, burns, surgical wounds, insect bites, cracked or peeling skin, ulcers and certain skin problems, including eczema, psoriasis and athlete’s foot.
Cellulitis begins as a red, swollen area of skin, which feels warm, tender and sometimes painful. These infections can occur anywhere on the body, but are most frequently found on the legs, face and arms. People with cellulitis may also experience fever, chills, muscle aches, nausea and fatigue, according to the National Institutes of Health.
If left untreated, the skin infection can spread to the lymph nodes or blood. This bodily invasion can lead to a severe — and potentially deadly — blood infection called sepsis.
Is Cellulitis Contagious?
Cellulitis is not usually spread from person to person. Typically, you cannot get it from someone who has it or spread it to another person. That being said, if you have an open wound that directly comes into contact with the infected area of a person with cellulitis, there’s an increased chance you could get a case yourself. Risk factors that can increase your chances include:
- Injury. A break in the skin can serve as an entry point for bacteria.
- Skin condition. Skin conditions such as athlete’s foot and eczema can give bacteria an entry point.
- Weak immune system. You’ll be more susceptible to infections if you have a condition — such as HIV/AIDS, leukemia, or diabetes — that weakens your immune system.
- Obesity. You have a higher risk of developing cellulitis if you’re overweight or obese.
- History. If you’ve had cellulitis in the past, you’ll be prone to developing it again.
How Is Cellulitis Treated?
Treating cellulitis depends on how severe the infection is. If you have symptoms of cellulitis but no fever, you can make an appointment with your primary care doctor, as long as they’re able to see you within one day. But if you do have a fever in addition to other cellulitis symptoms, it’s best to head to the emergency room or an urgent care center.
A doctor will start by checking your symptoms. They’ll look for red, blotchy areas of skin that feel warm to the touch. If the infection seems to be in its early stages, you’ll likely just need a round of oral antibiotics.
Make sure to take the full course as prescribed by your doctor, even if you stop noticing symptoms after a day or two. If the infection is spreading or seems more severe, you may need intravenous antibiotics. Your doctor may also recommend this if you have a condition that affects your immune system.
Depending on your symptoms, you may need to stay in the hospital for a few days to ensure the infection doesn’t enter your bloodstream. Your doctor may prescribe a different antibiotic or have you admitted for IV treatment.
.In addition, under most circumstances, cellulitis is not contagious. Generally, cellulitis is a common skin condition that usually responds to simple treatment. It can be dangerous, however, particularly if left untreated.