What Is Facial Cellulitis?

Severe facial cellulitis infections may require hospitalization and intravenous antibiotics.
Article Details
  • Written By: Jacquelyn Gilchrist
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 06 July 2014
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Cellulitis is a type of skin infection caused by bacteria. Facial cellulitis means that the infection is located on or near the patient's face. The infection may affect either the surface of the skin, or it may spread to the deeper tissues and the bloodstream. Every type of cellulitis is potentially dangerous and should be treated as soon as possible.

Untreated cellulitis may be life-threatening. If the bacteria has spread to deeper tissue layers and the bloodstream, it may damage the lymphatic system, which is essential for the proper function of the immune system. Some patients may also develop inflammation of the veins, abscesses, and gangrene. Gangrene, which is severe damage to the tissues, may necessitate amputation.

Patients who notice possible signs of facial cellulitis should immediately see a doctor. These can include pain and tenderness, as well as a sudden skin rash that rapidly spreads. The facial area may also develop redness and swelling, and will often appear glossy. Occasionally, this condition can result in small blisters that are filled with fluid. Facial cellulitis may cause non-localized symptoms as well, such as muscle aches, fever, and chills.

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This condition may occur for the same reasons as many other skin infections. Bacteria can enter through breaks in the skin. Dry, flaky skin may be especially unable to prevent the entrance of such germs. Facial cellulitis can also be transmitted through the bite of an insect, or it may appear in an area where a patient has recently had surgery or an injury. The types of bacteria that most often cause facial cellulitis are staphylococcus and streptococcus.

Some patients may be more at risk for developing cellulitis. People who suffer from lymphedema, or chronic swelling, may experience cracks in the skin layers. Those who engage in intravenous drug use also have a higher risk of any type of skin infection. Other skin conditions may also make the development of cellulitis more probable, such as athlete's foot, eczema, and shingles. Additionally, a weakened immune system may leave a patient more vulnerable to cellulitis.

The standard treatment for facial cellulitis is a course of antibiotics. Patients should inform their doctor if they are allergic to any medications. For severe cases, or when a patient fails to recover, hospitalization may be necessary. In these circumstances, the doctor will usually administer antibiotics intravenously. To help relieve discomfort, patients may apply a dampened sterile bandage, like a compress, to the affected facial area.

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Discuss this Article

anon326700
Post 6

I am dealing with a case right now. It appeared several days after a recent dental procedure so I was assuming it was somehow related, but apparently it was coincidental and probably the result of improper care of a deep nose pimple (go figure). It's funky to look at and not really painful, just tender and itchy in spots.

The doc gave me antibiotics which started to clear it up almost immediately, yay. She cautioned to keep watch on my temperature (don't let it get above 101F) and don't let the infection get to the eyes.

Sara007
Post 5

If you have children make sure to always clean their cuts and scratches well with soap and water, then apply an antibiotic cream just in case. Children are very susceptible to facial cellulitis. Haemophilus influenzae type B is the most common bacteria that causes facial cellulitis, but it can be held at bay if you take precautions and keep all breaks of the skin well cleaned.

I find that having some soap or hand wash with chlorhexidine in it to be a good idea. This is the same kind of disinfectant wash they use in hospitals to clean their hands and can be great to help prevent the spread of bacteria.

letshearit
Post 4

After reading this article I made the mistake of searching for photos of what facial cellulitis looks like. Facial cellulitis appears quite shocking at its later stages and I am really surprised that people wouldn't haul themselves off to a doctor the moment they started to develop such a rash on their face.

It seems that it starts as a simple red rash than starts to develop sores that almost look like burns. I can imagine that it would be horribly painful.

I think a good rule of thumb is that if you get a strange rash that doesn't go away with some over the counter allergy pills you should head to the doctor before it gets worse.

ajvician
Post 3

This is a very informative article. It is very helpful to know the facial cellulitis symptoms, thank you. Of course, now every time I get a rash I'm going to be kind of freaked out...

frosted
Post 2

rebelgurl28 - I agree, it seems pretty scary to me. It is understandable that someone could just think they have the flu and a skin rash.

It is so important to pay attention to your body signals and be aware of what is going on. So many people get busy and try to push through an illness and disregard serious symptoms.

You shouldn't put off going to the doctor when you aren't well. I have a friend who had leg cellulitis and she almost waited too long to see her doctor. The doctors believe it started with a simple bug bite.

rebelgurl28
Post 1

I have seen some cellulitis pictures and some cases look really awful. It is hard to believe that someone would get so sick before seeing their doctor. However some look like a simple rash and I think it would be easy to not realize how sick you are. It is pretty scary.

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