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Your Skin and Cellulitis

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Is Cellulitis Contagious?

Cellulitis is not contagious because it is an infection of the skin's deeper layers, the dermis and subcutaneous tissue, and the skin's top layer (the epidermis) provides a cover over the infection. In this regard, cellulitis is different from impetigo in which there is a very superficial skin infection that can be contagious.

How Is Cellulitis Treated?

First, it is crucial for the doctor to distinguish whether or not the skin inflammation is due to an infection. The patient's history and physical exam can provide clues in this regard, as can a white blood cell count. A culture for bacteria may also be of value.

When it is difficult or impossible to distinguish whether or not the inflammation is due to an infection, doctors sometimes treat with antibiotics just to be sure. If the condition does not respond, it may need to be addressed by different methods dealing with types of inflammation that are not infected. For example, if the inflammation is thought to be due to an autoimmune disorder, treatment may be with a corticosteroid.

Antibiotics, such as derivatives of penicillin or other types of antibiotics that are effective against the staph germ, are used to treat cellulitis. If other bacteria, as determined by culture tests, turn out to be the cause, or if patients are allergic to penicillin, other appropriate antibiotics can be substituted to treat cellulitis.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Norman Levine, MD on July 02, 2012
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