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Is Cellulitis Contagious?

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Is Cellulitis Contagious?

writtenByWritten by: Leah McCabe
Leah McCabe

Leah McCabe

Leah likes writing about health and science subjects. Through her writing she hopes to help people of all backgrounds have equal access to information and quality healthcare.

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December 9, 2020 Read Time - 4 minutes

Cellulitis is typically not contagious. Because cellulitis is a bacterial infection of the deeper layers of the skin, it is not easily spread from person to person.

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What is Cellulitis?

Cellulitis is a bacterial skin infection that occurs when cracked, cut, and/or wounded skin becomes infected.

If you’re trying to self diagnose you’re probably wondering, what does the beginning of cellulitis look like? Cellulitis may first appear as a swollen red area that feels hot to the touch.

It is fairly common and if caught early cellulitis is easy to treat with a doctor prescribed antibiotic.

However, if cellulitis remains untreated it can spread into the lymph nodes and bloodstream. If you’re wondering how long does cellulitis take to spread, don’t wait. A bacterial infection can become fatal if it makes its way around the body to vital organs.

So, can cellulitis turn into sepsis? Yes, it can, so seek immediate treatment from a doctor.

The legs and feet are the most commonly infected areas. This is because they are usually more exposed to harmful bacteria and are typically cleaned less often than say the hands, which we wash frequently.

That said, cellulitis can infect any part of the body that has an open wound and is exposed to harmful bacteria.


Read: Cellulitis: Signs, Symptoms, Causes, Treatments


Is Cellulitis Contagious?

As mentioned above, cellulitis is usually not contagious between people because the bacteria only infect open wounds, which rarely come into direct contact with other open wounds.

However, it is always important to practice proper hygiene, especially if you have come into close contact with an infection.

Some basic guidelines to follow when you come into close contact with an infected wound are:

  • Wear medical gloves as a barrier
  • Always wash your hands with soap and warm water for 2 minutes, especially if you believe you’ve come into contact with harmful bacteria

The bacteria that cause cellulitis will not infect the skin unless they have an entry into the body via a break in the skin.

Common wounds and skin conditions that can become infected with cellulitis include:

• Cuts
• Puncture wounds
• Burns
• Ulcers
• Athlete’s foot
• Dermatitis
• Animal bites
• Insect bites
• Recent surgery incisions
• Cracked, dry skin

Is cellulitis caused by poor hygiene?

If you have any of the above conditions, take extra care to disinfect the area regularly especially if you may have been exposed to cellulitis and other harmful bacteria.

  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

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Cellulitis Risk Factors

How does a person get cellulitis? Do healthy people get cellulitis? Some people are more averse to contracting cellulitis and should take extra precautions by closely monitoring open wounds, burns, surgical incision, or any other breaks of the skin, including dry skin.

Who is prone to cellulitis? Well, if you have any of the following conditions you are at a higher risk of contracting cellulitis:

  • A weakened immune system due to conditions such as: Diabetes, HIV/AIDS, Leukemia
  • Skin conditions that cause breaks in the skin, such as eczema and athlete’s foot
  • Intravenous (IV) drug use
  • History of cellulitis
  • Obesity

Read: Get Cellulitis Treatment Online With PlushCare


Preventing Cellulitis

Here are some things you can do to prevent cellulitis:

  • Wash your wound with soap and water daily
  • Apply protective cream or ointment (Vaseline, Polysporin and other over the counter options provide great protection)
  • Cover your wound with a bandage or band-aid and change at least daily
  • Watch for signs of infection such as redness, pain, swelling, and drainage, so you know when to contact a doctor for immediate treatment.
  • Wear proper shoes to reduce the risk of cuts
  • When the skin does break it is important to treat it right away by cleaning it and properly bandaging it to prevent cellulitis

What should you avoid if you have cellulitis?

  • Avoid constricting clothing that cuts off blood flow to the area.
  • Don’t skip any of your antibiotic prescriptions.
  • Don’t stop your antibiotic cycle even when symptoms are alleviated. This can create an antibiotic-resistant re-infection.
  • Avoid getting any other scrapes or bruises, especially around the infected area.

Remember cellulitis is not typically contagious and with proper hygiene, it can easily be avoided. But if you do think you have contracted cellulitis be sure to see a PlushCare doctor for an official diagnosis and treatment right away.

Read More About Bacterial Infections

Sources:

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