Facial Cellulitis – What You Need To Know

facial cellulitis

Facial cellulitis is typically an infection of the subcutaneous tissue and the dermis of the facial skin. Though bacteria are the most common cause for the infection, occasionally the infection can also be caused by a fungus. Certain types of bacteria (streptococcus and staphylococcus) enter the soft tissues of the skin through cuts and bruises.

Facial cellulitis most commonly occurs in infants aged between 3 months and 2 years or adults older than 50 years of age. This type of infection is not contagious.


Facial Cellulitis Common Causes

Facial cellultis is caused when bug bites transmit the bacteria. Rarely, the infection is also transmitted by anaerobic bacteria. Other traumas that can lead to this infection include surgery, swimming in fresh or salt water with broken skin, etc. In infants, cellulitis is caused by spread of group B streptococci bacteria.


Risk Factors

Sometimes, the infection occurs even without a cut or a bruise on the face. The risk of developing facial cellulitis increases when a degenerative medical condition such as diabetes, cancer, HIV/AIDS, etc., is present or when the individual has a compromised immune system. Though this does not cause the cellulitis directly, other infections such as those of the teeth and ear, and upper respiratory tract generally precede facial cellulitis.

Those who use drugs intravenously, alcoholics, those who have venous insufficiency, etc., are at greater risk of developing the infection. Those who have deep cuts on their faces, or have eczema, dermatitis, etc., have more chances of contracting facial cellulitis.


Symptoms of facial cellulitis

Facial cellulitis typically begins with swelling and redness in the face, particularly in the cheeks. The condition is also accompanied by burning and itchiness of the skin. Facial cellulitis causes the tongue to swell up and become very sensitive to touch. The infection is sometimes accompanied by a fever, decreased appetite, body aches and chills.

The infected skin areas feel warm when touched. If left untreated, the infection can spread to the lymph nodes and other parts of the body and become more severe leading to further complications. The appearance of a red streak underneath the skin indicates that the infection has spread to the lymphatic system.



Symptoms of facial cellulitis appearing on the face can be promptly detected. However, it is a good idea to seek medical attention immediately. The medical specialist is likely to conduct a physical exam after checking the medical history of the patient. Certain laboratory tests that are conducted can confirm the presence of facial cellulitis. Treatment is decided by culturing the bacteria that is causing the infection.


How to cure facial cellulitis?

Facial cellulitis is commonly treated with antibiotics for a period of 10 to 14 days. If the infection is accompanied by high fever, hospitalization may be suggested by the doctor. Severe cases may require intravenous administration of antibiotics. Most patients who present with a condition of facial cellulitis have a recurrence of the infection.

Here the treatment course is usually longer to completely eradicate the infection. Surgery may be required in extreme cases to drain the pus when the patient develops an abscess on the face. Dead infected tissue is sometimes derided surgically to ease the healing of the surrounding skin. The accompanying pain and fever are treated with over-the-counter drugs.


Prevention tips

Control of predisposing conditions helps to prevent the risk of infection in the first place and its recurrence. These may include: glycemic control, weight control, avoiding injury to the skin as far as possible, wearing appropriate protective gear when playing outdoor sports, avoiding swimming with broken facial skin, keeping cuts and bruises clean by washing frequently.

Severe cases of facial cellulitis may take a long time to get completely cured. Strong antibiotics are also known to reduce the defense system of the body. Therefore, prevention of facial cellulitis and its recurrence is very important to lead a healthy life.

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