What are the Causes of Wound Cellulitis?

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  • Written By: Pamela Pleasant
  • Edited By: W. Everett
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  • Last Modified Date: 26 September 2019
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Wound cellulitis is caused by streptococcus or staphylococcus bacteria. This bacteria typically enters the skin through a scratch or puncture wound. A cellulitis infection can also be caused by different types of bacteria in patients younger than six years old. Pastuerella multocida, hemophilus influenzae, and vibrio vulnificus bacterai can all affect children. Wound cellulitis can be a potentially dangerous infection because it is sometimes resistant to antibiotics.

This infection is typically found in the lower layers of the skin, but the symptoms can appear on the skin’s surface. It can begin with redness and swelling around the initial area, but as the infection progresses, blistering accompanied with pain can develop. A fever and inflammation around the area can also occur. Wound cellulitis infections can spread rapidly, and if they are not treated with antibiotics, the infection can spread into the bloodstream.

This type of bacterial infection can also enter the body through a surgical incision or wound. This commonly happens if the incision is exposed to bacteria while in the hospital. Patients who have immune system problems are at a higher risk of getting wound cellulitis and it can also be reoccurring. People who have HIV-AIDS or diabetes and people receiving chemotherapy can also easily acquire wound cellulitis. When the blood circulation is slowed down due to pregnancy or obesity, it also increases the chances for cellulitis.


Cellulitis is diagnosed by observing the infected area. Typically there will be inflammation at the wound site. A physician may also take a bacteria culture to view the organism. Large doses of antibiotics are given to eradicate the bacteria, but sometimes wound cellulitis becomes antibiotic resistant. If the infection turns life threatening, intravenous drugs have to be administered.

Methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is one type of antibiotic-resistant form of cellulitis. The bacterial infection spreads by skin to skin contact and it effects people who work in close groups, children who practice certain sports which include wrestling and people who care for children. This type of wound cellulitis is extremely contagious and large bumps or abscesses are normally seen. These bumps sometimes have to be surgically drained of pus and this infection can be life threatening. Once this infection enters the bloodstream, it can have a damaging effect on the heart and lungs.

Wound cellulitis can happen if a person is bitten by a brown recluse spider. The same symptoms occur as in other cellulitis cases. This bacterial infection is also treated with large doses antibiotics.


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