Swollen, red or warm skin are signs of a skin infection called cellulitis. Dr. David Graham and the expert team at Silver Leaf Dermatology in Edmond and Enid, Oklahoma treat cellulitis with antibiotics, so it doesn’t spread to other parts of your body or cause serious adverse effects.

Cellulitis Q&A

What is cellulitis?

Cellulitis is a potentially severe and even life-threatening skin infection that requires immediate medical treatment. Cellulitis usually affects the skin on your lower legs, but can occur anywhere on your body, even on your face.

The infection develops suddenly in the deep layers of your skin and can spread rapidly throughout your body. Cellulitis is highly contagious and potentially serious.

How can I tell if I have cellulitis?

Symptoms of cellulitis tend to be limited to one side of the body, and include:

  • Redness that expands or changes
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness and pain
  • Warmth
  • Skin dimpling
  • Red spots or blisters
  • Fever

If you suspect you have cellulitis, you must contact Dr. Graham right away or visit the emergency room for immediate treatment before the infection spreads to other parts of your body. If that happens, it can cause blood poisoning, liver damage, and leg ulcers.

What causes cellulitis?

Cellulitis occurs when bacteria, such as streptococcus or staphylococcus, enter your skin through a crack, fissure, or puncture. The most common causes of cellulitis are:

  • Dry, flaky skin
  • An insect or spider bite
  • Recent surgery
  • A skin injury, including punctures or cuts
  • Athlete’s foot
  • Dermatitis

You can reduce your risk for cellulitis by immediately washing wounds with soap and water. You should also keep your skin clean and moisturized.

The following factors increase your risk for cellulitis:

  • Obesity
  • A weakened immune system (e.g., diabetes)
  • Skin conditions such as shingles
  • Chronic swelling of limbs
  • Intravenous drug use
  • A history of cellulitis

What are the best treatments for cellulitis?

Dr. Graham prescribes oral antibiotics to kill the bacteria causing the cellulitis. If you keep the affected area elevated, you may help the infection clear up more quickly.

Observe your symptoms carefully. If they don’t resolve within a few days after taking oral antibiotics, Dr. Graham may suggest hospitalization to administer intravenous antibiotics that can wipe out the infection.

Don’t delay. Contact Silver Leaf Dermatology if you think you have cellulitis, so Dr. Graham or another dermatologist at can stop the infection from spreading.