Facial Cellulitis

All About Facial Cellulitis



Facial cellulitis is an infection of the skin that causes pain, swelling, and redness on the face.  The infection may also feel warm to the touch.  Four other symptoms of the disease include chills, body aches, nausea and vomiting, and decreased appetite.  Facial cellulitis can affect anyone, regardless of age, although it most commonly develops in infants between three and 24 months of age and people who are over the age of fifty.  Although the disease itself is not serious, it’s important to get it treated promptly because it can cause serious complications.


Facial cellulitis is caused by bacteria, usually of the streptococcus or staphylococcus variety.  Children who have not received the Hib vaccine may be at high risk for facial cellulitis because they can become infected with Haemophilus influenza type B, another type of bacteria that was a common cause for facial cellulitis until the Hib vaccine became part of standard procedure for babies.  Other people who may be at a higher risk to catch facial cellulitis include those with lymphatic system problems, upper respiratory infections, middle ear infections, or tooth infections.  Patients who have diabetes are also at a higher risk to develop the infection.

Doctors diagnose facial cellulitis by looking at the swelled area and touching the skin to see if it feels warm.  The doctor may also look for open wounds that the bacteria may have entered through.  Doctors will usually confirm their diagnosis with a quick blood test.

If it goes untreated, facial cellulitis can cause meningitis, which is a brain infection.  People with otherwise weakened immune systems may also be at a higher risk to develop serious complications like gangrene.  The infection can also spread to the lymphatic system if it goes untreated.   The most common sign that the infection has already spread to the lymphatic system is a red streak along the skin. 

Treatment for facial cellulitis usually begins with antibiotics.  The patient may be hospitalized if his condition is very severe.  Doctors may also recommend plenty of rest for patients whose conditions are bad, but not bad enough to require hospitalization.  Soaking the face in warm water can relieve some of the visual symptoms, and an over-the-counter pain reliever like acetaminophen should help relieve the pain.

About 30 percent of patients who get facial cellulitis may experience a recurrence, so it’s important to take all of the antibiotics prescribed, even if the infection appears to have cleared up.  Doctors usually extend antibiotic treatment for patients who continually experience facial cellulitis infections.  Some patients even require antibiotic treatments every two weeks for quite some time.  Doctors may prescribe an antifungal cream to reduce the risk of recurrence. 

Avoiding facial cellulitis is as simple as cleansing your wounds and taking care of them.  Use an antibiotic ointment like Neosporin on all wounds and keep them covered with a bandage.  You can also use a daily facial cleanser to kill any bacteria that may be hanging out on your face.  Also steer clear of food that’s expired.