Cellulitis can typically occur in any area of your body, although there are certain parts that are more predisposed to this condition. This ailment can be classified according to the part that it affects. Here are some of the types of cellulitis that you should be familiar with.
Cellulitis of the Extremities
Cellulitis occurs most often on the arms, legs, feet and hands — these are referred to as cellulitis of the extremities.1 The infection manifests through symptoms such as redness, swelling and tenderness of the affected limbs. The skin may feel warm, and in some instances, a rash may develop. Elevating the affected arm or foot and applying a warm compress may provide relief for this condition.
If the infection worsens, a person may experience symptoms like fever, nausea, chills, confusion, weakness, swollen lymph glands and disorientation. Joint stiffness, muscle aches and rapid heart rate may also be experienced by some people. If the cellulitis occurs on the legs, the lymph glands in the groin may become swollen as well. If you experience any of these severe symptoms, it's best to consult a physician immediately.2
If you feel pain, tenderness and swelling, accompanied by redness, anywhere on your face, lips and tongue, chances are you could have facial cellulitis. This condition may also come with chills, fever, irritability and a swollen, tender and warm tongue. The facial skin may also feel tight and warm to the touch.
There are certain conditions that can predispose you to facial cellulitis, and these include:3
- Having a compromised lymphatic system
- Upper respiratory infection
- Tooth or middle ear infection
Also known as preseptal cellulitis, this type of infection affects the eye, particularly the eyelid and/or the skin around the eye. While it can occur at any age, this type of cellulitis is more common in children, especially infants 18 months old and under.4
Preseptal cellulitis usually occurs because of a scratch, injury, other abrasive trauma or bug bite around the eye, which allows bacteria to enter the wound. In some cases, it may occur because of sinusitis. The symptoms of periorbital cellulitis include redness, swelling and tenderness on or around the eyelid.
Fever, swelling in front of the whites of the eye and conjunctivitis (eye redness) are other symptoms of this condition. While it does not affect the movement of the eye or cause eye pain, there are rare instances when the infection can spread to the socket, tissues that surround the eye and the eyeball itself — this is called orbital cellulitis.
Many people do not know what orbital cellulitis is, since it's less common than periorbital cellulitis, but this condition is definitely more dangerous. People who experience eye trauma, tooth, middle ear or facial infection (such as preseptal cellulitis), infected sinus mococele (mucus within a blocked sinus) are more predisposed to this condition. Sinusitis may also be a risk factor. In fact, up to 3 percent of sinusitis cases will progress to orbital cellulitis, and 70 percent of patients with orbital cellulitis have sinusitis.5
Symptoms of orbital cellulitis include discomfort, pain and inflammation of the eyelid and the surrounding area. Your eye may also bulge and have limited movement, leading to decreased vision. Patients may also experience fever.6
Orbital cellulitis is considered a medical emergency because it affects the tissues on or near the eye, causing a higher risk of the infection spreading to the brain. Extreme caution is urged, as it can lead to permanent vision problems and blindness. If you experience any of these orbital cellulitis symptoms, consult a physician immediately.
This condition affects the breast, causing it to become red, swollen, warm and painful to touch. The symptoms may also spread to the shoulder, back and upper arm. In some cases, the affected person may develop a low-grade or high fever.7 Other rare symptoms include chills, body aches, decreased appetite, vomiting and abscesses (pus-filled cavities) on the breast.8
There are certain people who are at a higher risk of developing breast cellulitis, such as breast cancer patients and people with a history of lumpectomy. If you fall under these categories, it is highly recommended to take the necessary precautions to avoid this painful condition.
This type of cellulitis usually occurs in children, and is more common in males than females. It is characterized by an infection around the anal orifice, which can be identified by itchy bright red skin around the anus, painful bowel movements and bloody stool.
Unlike the other types of cellulitis, patients suffering from perianal cellulitis usually do not experience fatigue, fever and body aches. They may, however, develop a sore throat prior to experiencing the full-blown symptoms of this ailment.9 Diagnosing perianal cellulitis can be tricky, as it mimics symptoms of other ailments like yeast infection, psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease and pinworm infection. The symptoms may also be similar to the injuries seen in child abuse victims.10