What is cellulitis?

Cellulitis is bacterial infection of the skin and the tissues beneath the skin. It can occur on any part of the body.

Is cellulitis contagious?

Cellulitis is not contagious.

Who gets cellulitis?

Anyone can get cellulitis. Generally, a wound such as a cut, ulcer, animal bite, or surgical site puts a person at risk for cellulitis. Some people, however, particularly those with a weakened immune system, can get cellulitis without a cut or sore.

What causes cellulitis?

Cellulitis can be caused by many different bacteria. The most common organisms are group A streptococci and S. aureus. Cellulitis that develops in the setting of a chronic ulcer is often caused by a mix of bacterial species.

What are the symptoms of cellulitis?

A person with cellulitis often notices prominent symptoms in the affected area. These symptoms include:

  • Pain
  • Tenderness
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Warmth
  • Fluid-filled blisters
  • Discharge

Cellulitis can also cause fevers and chills, which may be present before the local symptoms arise.

If you notice any of these symptoms, you should see your doctor immediately.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 02/24/2019.


  • American Academy of Dermatology. Cellulitis. Accessed 3/19/2019.
  • Bolognia J, Cerroni L, Schaffer, JV, eds. “Bacterial Diseases.” Dermatology. Philadelphia: Elsevier Saunders; 2018. 1259-1295.

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