Foot Cellulitis – Things You Should Know

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Cellulitis is a bacterial skin condition. The main cause is bacteria breaking through the deep skin layers. Usually, this occurs after a cut or a bruise on the skin. Foot Cellulitis is one of the most common location of the infection.

In this article, we will explain the common symptoms, treatments, and also the best methods to prevent this infection from occurring. Additionally, we will explain how this condition differs from other foot diseases.


What is Cellulitis of the Foot?

Cellulitis of the foot is a skin infection, mainly caused by Staph and Strep bacteria. The risk factors for this disease may include injury and skin conditions around the foot.

In the majority of cases, it will affect a small localized area of your foot or lower legs. With timely and adequate treatment, the prognosis is generally good; however, the infection can quickly progress, and cause serious complications.

Signs and Symptoms of Foot Cellulitis

The most common signs of foot cellulitis are pain and swelling in the affected area, which may be hot to the touch. Additionally, there may be signs of a quickly progressing rash.

If you have any of these symptoms, you should go to the doctor as soon as possible. A fever may also be associated with local symptoms.


What Causes Cellulitis of the Foot?

The cause of all cellulitis is bacteria entering through a cut or crack on your skin. Our feet are constantly handling our weight, and the type of shoes you wear could increase the risk of cracks.
athlete's foot 01

Additionally, other types of skin injuries such as insect bites and conditions such as eczema can also increase the risk of infection. The most common risk factors for foot cellulitis are weak immune system, poor blood flow and hygiene, diabetes and recurring history of cellulitis.


Diagnosis and Treatment of Foot Cellulitis

A medical practitioner will usually ask some simple questions about your medical history. He/she will examine your foot and check for signs of infection. Upon confirmation, the doctor will usually prescribe a course of antibiotics that can be taken orally at home.

Most infections will clear up within a 10-day period. It is important to complete the full course of antibiotics even if your symptoms improve.

You will also have another appointment a few weeks later to assess whether the infection has been completed eliminated.


How Long Does Cellulitis of the foot last?

It is difficult to say precisely how long cellulitis of the foot can last. It depends on a various amount of factors such as the severity of the infection, and also on the timing of the treatment.

In general, the earlier the treatment, the quicker the infection is able to heal.


How is Foot Cellulitis Different from Other Foot Conditions?

Foot Cellulitis – Things You Should Know
The symptoms of foot cellulitis and other conditions involving the foot can appear to be somewhat similar.


Athletes Foot

Another common foot condition called athlete’s foot is due to a fungal infection. One of the risk factors for this type of infection is moisture within shoes. Therefore, people with sweaty feet are more likely to be affected.

It usually manifests in itchy, scaly white patches on the toes and soles of the feet. Additionally, there can be peeling and flaky skin around the foot.

The treatment for this condition is antifungal cream. Athlete’s foot should be differentiated from cellulitis. However, individuals who suffer from this condition are prone to cellulitis because of the damaging effect of fungal infection on the skin.



Skin growth such as warts is not rare in the foot area. They usually appear on the heels, or other weight-bearing parts of the foot. They are easy to differentiate from cellulitis; the latter will present with signs of inflammation like swelling, redness and tenderness.

The treatment for warts can involve peeling medicine in minor cases or freezing medicine if they are more severe.



Bunions are painful bony bumps that usually develop on the inside of the foot. The main cause is pressure on the big toe joint. The bump can be painful when walking. The cure involves relieving the pressure that created the bunion. This can involve using wider shoes, and applying ice.

Most cases can heal on their own if there is a solution to the cause. Advanced cases may require surgery. A bunion is different from cellulitis since it is a highly specific and painful bump.


How to Treat Cellulitis of the Foot at Home?

Alongside antibiotic treatment, there are a number of home treatments you can utilize to ease any pain, and also hasten the recovery process.

Additionally, if the swelling is on your leg, then you should elevate it to reduce swelling. You can also apply a cold compress to the affected area.
Foot Cellulitis – Things You Should Know

It is vital to keep the area as clean as possible. An over-the-counter pain reliever can be effective in minimizing any pain. Overall, you should make sure that the wound is properly covered. This will allow it to heal quickly.


How to Prevent Foot Cellulitis

A number of precautions can help minimize the risk of foot cellulitis.

Firstly, it is important to practice good hygiene and to keep your feet clean at all times. You should wear well-fitting shoes, that aren’t too tight. This can reduce the chances of developing cuts and bruises that are usually responsible for the infection.

Additionally, if you have diabetes, you should ensure that your condition is well managed. You should also make sure that skin conditions such as athlete’s foot or eczema are properly treated.
Based on the provided information, you have now a better understanding of foot cellulitis. This condition is preventable and highly treatable.

If you have any symptoms, you should visit a doctor since the infection can quickly spread. It is important to follow the essential precautions to prevent cellulitis on foot.

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Last article update: 9/12/2019

Medically reviewed by Dr. Thouria Bensaoula on Sept 12, 2019.