Learn More About Cellulitis Pathophysiology


Cellulitis is a skin infection caused by bacteria. How these bacteria entered the skin and its evident effects in the can be easily followed using a cellulitis pathophysiology.

Causative Agents

Cellulitis is commonly caused by the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes of the Group A beta-hemolytic Streptococci. These two bacteria are part of the skin's natural flora. They exist naturally in the skin and cause no harm or infection. Since the skin is the protective organ of the whole body, it is most prone to cuts, scratches, wounds and breaks. Animal bites, insect bites, tattoos, piercings, and surgical wounds are also unnatural breaks or opening in the skin.

Following cellulitis pathophysiology, the first step is that the presence of skin breaks becomes the entry points of infection. These unnatural openings are where S. aureus and S. pyogenes enter and start invading the skin. Once inside the inner skin layer, these two bacteria start secreting virulent enzymes that damage skin cells. Thus infection starts.

Infection and Body Reaction

After the entry of infection, cellulitis pathophysiology goes through the stage of infection. The body will recognize the foreign substitutes from the bacteria and will now react passively, negatively or defensively. The infected area will start to manifest symptoms such as redness, tenderness, swelling, itchiness, pain, elevated temperature and decrease in mobility. In some cases, fever or chills may also manifest. An elevated body temperature simply means that the body's antibodies are fighting and trying to eliminate the foreign organizations.

These reactions of the body serve as warnings that there are invasive organizations in the system. In some cases when the infection has penetrated the blood stream, adjunct infections may appear. Since the blood circulates through the whole body, the infection may also attack other parts of the body's skin and start producing the same symptoms as the original infection.

People who are already immunocompromised or those with existing diseases will allow the infection to progress faster and may move faster through the cellulitis pathophysiology. AIDS and diabetes patients are examples. Existence of secondary complications and infections are also more probable in these cases. Since the body's immune system is weak, the action of the antibodies is not even enough to slow down the progress of the infection.


The end of the cellulitis pathophysiology is marked by the treatment and effects of medication to the symptoms. Treatment usually starts with antibiotics since the infectious agents are bacteria. Antibiotics may be taken orally or administratively intravenously. Oral antibiotics such as penicillin kill the inviting gram-positive bacteria. Broad spectrum antibiotics are usually administratively intravenously administered. They target both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. Once the antibiotics have taken effect, the symptoms such as swelling, redness and tenderness starts to subside.

The fever and pain may also be alleviated by over the counter drugs such as paracetamol. Some patients are allergic to penicillin so milder or alternative antibiotics are prescribed such as erythromycin. However, erythromycin's action towards the gram-positive infectious agents is not as potent as penicillin. Erythromycin only stops the bacteria from multiplying instead of totally killing off the microorganism. Topical creams also help in healing the red streaks and external skin manifestations of the infection.

Barb Hicks