Mayo Clinic Health Library

Question

Cellulitis infection: Is it contagious?

Is cellulitis contagious?

Updated: 04-03-2012

Answer

Cellulitis isn't usually spread from person to person. Cellulitis is an infection of the deeper layers of the skin most commonly caused by bacteria that normally live on the skin's surface. You have an increased risk of developing cellulitis if you:

  • Have an injury such as a cut, fracture, burn or scrape
  • Have a skin condition such as eczema, athlete's foot or shingles
  • Participate in contact sports, such as wrestling
  • Have diabetes or a weakened immune system
  • Have a chronic swelling of your arms or legs (lymphedema)
  • Use intravenous drugs

Signs and symptoms of cellulitis include:

  • Redness, swelling and tenderness
  • Warmth of the affected skin
  • Fever and chills
  • Swollen glands or lymph nodes

Left untreated, cellulitis can rapidly turn into a life-threatening condition. Treatment usually includes antibiotics. In severe cases, you may need to be hospitalized and receive antibiotics through your veins (intravenously).