Is Cellulitis Contagious?

is cellulitis contagious

A lot of people wonder, “Is cellulitis contagious?” This is a pretty smart question to ask, because it shares similarities to other skin diseases that are contagious, like poison ivy or chicken pox. But, in order to understand cellulitis better, we are going to explain what it is, what causes it, and how you can prevent and treat it. Then, you will get a clearer picture of the issue.

Certainly, the biggest question of all regarding cellulitis is if it is infectious. So let’s get that out of the way.

 

Is Cellulitis Contagious?

Well, no. If you accidentally touch someone who has it, you probably will not get infected. Unfortunately, things are not that simple and that is why we are going to mention all the situations you can put yourself in that involve possibly getting this skin infection.

But first, let’s go through some basic information about cellulitis.

 

What Is Cellulitis?

Cellulitis is a well-known skin condition, which can be caused by multiple bacteria, the most popular being Streptococcus and Staphylococcus.

How can you recognize having cellulitis? Well, one of the most common symptoms is red and swollen skin that is painful to the touch. If you touch the infected region you will notice the skin is pretty warm, and has a “glossy” finish.

There are four types of cellulitis that are categorized based on the part of the body bacteria can infect:

● Breast cellulitis
● Facial cellulitis (most commonly affecting cheeks or nose)
● Periorbital cellulitis or eye skin inflammation
● Perianal cellulitis which has an effect on the anal orifice

As you can see, cellulitis can pretty much infect any organ in your body. However, the most surprising and frightening fact is that cellulitis can become life-threatening if pathogens spread in the bloodstream, or lymph vessels and nodes. If you want to find out more on how serious cellulitis is, be sure to check out this article where we covered everything on the inflammation.

 

What Can Cause Cellulitis?

As was previously mentioned, cellulitis is mostly related to Streptococcus and Staphylococcus bacteria. It is a skin condition that occurs when bacteria penetrates the deepest layers of the skin.

How can bacteria enter your body? Several ways: If you have an open wound or a cut, a burn or a blister. In fact, if you have any disbalance of the skin, like eczema, psoriasis or athlete’s foot, your body is more prone to getting cellulitis. Since bacteria are constantly around us, having a certain skin condition won’t make you instantly get cellulitis, but a weakened immune system will. In order to boost your immune system, be sure to pay attention to your diet, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep.

Other causes of cellulitis includes diseases that tend to slow down circulation, like diabetes, obesity, and pregnancy.

Obesity and Diet as Causes of Cellulitis

The one fact no one can argue about is that this skin inflammation can occur at any age, at any moment. Having to be around many people during your workday, makes it completely understandable that you would be worried about cellulitis being spread. This is why it is important to answer the question, “Is cellulitis contagious?”

So, let’s answer the four most commonly asked questions relating to cellulitis being infectious.

 

Question 1: Is Periorbital Cellulitis Contagious?

Is Periorbital Cellulitis Contagious?
Periorbital cellulitis is cellulitis of the eyelid, which manifests as swelling of that part of the eye, and affecting the skin around the eye. It is most commonly caused by an insect bite, scratch or a cut that happened near the eye, and usually affects children.

As Healthline.com states, periorbital cellulitis can be dangerous if it spreads to the eye socket, becoming an orbital cellulitis. If this type of cellulitis occurs, and is not treated in time, it can lead to vision problems, including total blindness.

Well, is this type of cellulitis contagious? For the most part, it isn’t, since cellulitis is not spread from person to person. However, if you touch your child’s eye with an open wound on your hand, insect bite or any other skin-related issues, you are raising the chance of getting cellulitis yourself.

 

Question 2: Is Cellulitis Contagious Even After Taking Antibiotics?

Cellulitis cannot be spread just by touching a person that is infected. Therefore, touching a person who has been properly treated for cellulitis shouldn’t be a problem. That being said, if the infected person hasn’t been correctly taking the medications, there is a high chance that the bacteria is still in the body. As a precautionary measure, try not to get too intimate with the carrier of cellulitis, because you never know if there is an open wound on your skin, or if your immune system is strong enough to protect you from getting cellulitis.

When it comes to cellulitis treatment, which we touched on a bit later in this post, there is one thing you have to know: if there are no serious symptoms (like fever or high blood pressure), the antibiotics will start working after just a couple of days. Basically, you will instantly feel better. However, that doesn’t mean that you should quit taking antibiotics – on the contrary, you should be very persistent, and follow doctor’s directions.

 

Question 3: Can Cellulitis Be Spread When Getting a Tattoo?

Or, shall we say, does cracking of the skin while tattooing makes cellulitis contagious? Hmm, let’s say no.

First of all, we are counting on you to visit a professional to get a tattoo. A professional tattoo artist should have sterilized equipment. However, even with these hygienic measures, you still stand the chance of getting a skin infection like cellulitis. Since getting a tattoo is damaging to the skin’s protective layer, having a needle stuck into your skin can only raise the risk of bacteria getting into your pores and deeper layers.

Is there a chance you can lower this risk? Yes, it’s pretty simple – be sure to rub alcohol on the part of the skin where you are getting tattooed. This won’t prevent your skin from cracking during the tattooing, but at least your skin will be completely sterilized.

 

Question 4: Can Cellulitis Be Spread Through Saliva?

Is Cellulitis Contagious - Cellulitis Spread Through Saliva
This is one of the most asked questions. More precisely, does kissing make cellulitis contagious? Definitely not. As mentioned before, cellulitis affects the deeper layers of the skin – the dermis and subcutaneous tissue. If the bacteria hasn’t gotten in the bloodstream, you have nothing to worry about. That same answer goes for the question as to whether or not cellulitis is sexually transmitted.

 

So, How Should You Treat Cellulitis?

Treating Cellulitis with Antibiotics
Cellulitis is most commonly treated with oral antibiotics. In fact, it can be treated with several types of antibiotics, depending on which bacteria caused it. The medications are most likely derivatives of penicillin. However, if the infection spreads and causes more serious symptoms, your doctor will recommend hospitalization, and will treat the condition with antibiotics and an IV bag.

Is that all it takes to treat this skin inflammation? Hardly! Let’s stop for a second and think about the controversy regarding the question, “Is cellulitis contagious?” Why is it so popular, and why does everyone wonder about this specific topic? The reason is simple – cellulitis can easily become a full-body disease spreading through the bloodstream.

However, there is one thing we haven’t mentioned. If your cellulitis symptoms become more severe, you will have to undergo surgery. The doctor will need to physically remove the infected part from your body. By doing so, antibiotics will then become more effective, and you will heal faster. To be honest, no one wants to go through a surgery for a skin condition that can be treated with oral antibiotics. That is why it is essential that you know and be able to recognize the first symptoms of this skin infection.

 

Once It’s Gone, It’s Gone Forever?

Unfortunately not, but that doesn’t mean you will necessarily get it again.

In order to make sure you lower the chance of getting it, the first thing you can do is to take the antibiotics according to the doctor’s prescription. If you are to take it for 10 days, be sure to complete it. Why? Because taking medications for less time than prescribed cannot kill the bacteria, which means that infection will be back soon.

Preventing Cellulitis - Wearing Sunscreen

Apart from properly treating the condition, you should be very careful with your skin. What does it mean? Well, one thing you can do to ensure you have healthy skin is to wear sunscreen every time you go out (not just during the summer!). When exercising and playing sports outdoors, be sure to wear adequate gear. This may all sounds familiar. But, what about circumstances beyond your control, like insect bites? No problem – just apply insect repellent before going outside.

Here’s another tip: Wash your hands regularly and clean wounds and cuts with alcohol. Adding antibiotic ointment before bandaging and covering a wound, is always a good option.

 

How to Prevent Cellulitis

Unfortunately, the bad news is that cellulitis is not always preventable. How come?

Even if we eliminate serious conditions like diabetes or obesity, there is always a chance of getting cellulitis through open cuts and wounds, and when your immune system is not strong enough. All you can do is practice good hygiene, and physically and mentally take care of your overall health. What you don’t know is that humans encounter sharp objects on a daily basis that tend to make microscopic breaks in your skin, which is a great place for an infection to develop. Additionally, if you have a history of having cellulitis, you have an increased chance of getting it again.

 

Cellulitis Is Not Contagious, but…

Let’s recap.

Overall, the answer to, “Is cellulitis contagious?” is no – you cannot get it by touching someone that has it. That being said though, it is not always that simple. You see, when someone gets cellulitis, there is a lot of bacteria that will infest the area – bacteria that you cannot see and that is immune to many of the common cleaners people use. So, if you were to have dry skin or an open wound and you came into contact with someone who had a case of cellulitis, there is an increased chance that you will get a case of cellulitis yourself. Also, if you already have one of the preconditions that are common in cellulitis sufferers, like athlete’s foot or other skin-based diseases, there is an increased chance that you will catch it.

 

How to Prevent the Spread of Cellulitis…

The second most popular question after, “Is Cellulitis contagious?” is, “How can I prevent the spread of cellulitis medical skin condition?” Luckily, this question is easily answered as well…

If you do have a case of cellulitis, keep it clean, get treatment from your doctor, and keep it covered up. The main way to prevent the spread of cellulitis is to get rid of yours as soon as possible. If you do have a case of cellulitis, just be extra careful, and be considerate of others – that’s all you can really do. Chances are, once you get a cellulitis treatment from your doctor, it will heal pretty quickly, so you have nothing to worry about.

Don_t Worry About Cellulitis Being Contagious

The answer to, “Is cellulitis contagious?” is no, but there are still some things you need to do to make sure you don’t cause the spread of this skin-based disease. There is no reason you should have it longer than a few days after you seek treatment, so it really is not that big of a deal. Continue living your life as you normally would, be a little more careful, and you will have nothing to worry about!

 
Last article update: 9/20/2018

 
Image credits: Pixabay.com & DepositPhotos.com

 

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