Itching is not a typical symptom of cellulitis. It is a bacterial skin infection that may cause symptoms like swelling and discomfort. However, some people may experience itchiness as their skin heals.

Other common symptoms of cellulitis include fever and chills, nausea, and fatigue. Treating the infection early on helps prevent it from becoming more serious.

This article explores itching and cellulitis alongside more common symptoms and treatment options for the condition.

A person itching their legs. Cellulitis can cause itching during its healing stages.Share on Pinterest
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In the initial stages of cellulitis, itching is not a common symptom. Affected skin may become red, blistered, or warm to the touch. The skin redness is visible on lighter skin but less noticeable on darker skin tones. Although these areas of skin can be painful, they do not typically become itchy.

However, itching can occur during the healing process. As the skin responds to treatment, it may start to peel or flake. Itchiness may occur during this stage of cellulitis recovery.

In some cases, cellulitis develops after bacteria enter the body through another infection. One such infection is athlete’s foot. This infection may cause the skin between the toes to become dry and itchy. If untreated, athlete’s foot can eventually lead to cellulitis.

Learn more about causes of itchy skin.

Cellulitis is most common on the lower legs and generally begins on only one side of the body. Signs of cellulitis on affected skin include:

Skin can also become painful and tender. Swelling and redness may also begin to spread as the infection progresses. Other symptoms that indicate cellulitis can also include:

If the infection becomes severe, individuals may also develop low blood pressure or have difficulty concentrating.

Anyone experiencing symptoms of cellulitis should contact a healthcare professional immediately. Treating cellulitis early on can prevent it from becoming more serious.

The symptoms of cellulitis may mimic those of other skin conditions. Researchers estimate that medical professionals misdiagnose 28–30.7% of cellulitis cases. Misdiagnosis can delay proper treatment and increase the chance of serious health consequences.

Skin conditions commonly mistaken for cellulitis include:

Another potential misdiagnosis for cellulitis is the herpes zoster virus, known as shingles. The symptoms of shingles, such as redness and swelling, can mimic those of cellulitis.

Eczema can also cause inflammation that may resemble cellulitis symptoms. However, skin affected by eczema is not typically as hot or swollen as that affected by cellulitis.

Misdiagnosis can delay recovery and increase the severity of the infection. Sharing a full medical history with a medical professional and reporting new or worsening symptoms can help improve the chances of a correct diagnosis.

Antibiotics are the standard treatment for cellulitis. What type of antibiotic to take and how long to take it depends on the individual and the bacteria involved. Healthcare professionals generally prescribe 1–2 weeks of antibiotic treatment for cellulitis. It is also important for a person to finish the entire course of antibiotics even if they begin to feel better.

Most people with cellulitis can take antibiotic pills at home. However, severe cases of cellulitis may require IV antibiotics within a hospital setting.

Cellulitis treatment may also include properly cleaning and bandaging skin wounds. Elevating the legs can also help decrease inflammation and promote healing.

Learn more about open wound care.

If skin becomes itchy during the healing process, it can be helpful to apply cool compress or ice packs to the affected area. Certain moisturizers or topical anesthetics can also reduce itching.

Individuals who experience itching during recovery from cellulitis should speak with a healthcare professional before trying a new treatment. They can recommend safe and appropriate measures to reduce itching after cellulitis.

Learn more about natural and home remedies for itching.

Without proper treatment, cellulitis can spread to other parts of the body. This may ultimately lead to blood poisoning, known as sepsis, or other dangerous health concerns.

Signs that cellulitis requires emergency treatment may include:

  • increasing pain levels
  • chills or fever
  • spreading of the cellulitis rash

Individuals with sepsis may experience:

Anyone showing signs of sepsis should visit an emergency room immediately.

Here are some answers to common questions about cellulitis and itching.

Does cellulitis itch and burn?

Cellulitis does not typically cause itching in the early stages of infection. However, the affected skin may flake or peel during treatment. This can cause itching throughout the healing process.

Certain infections that lead to cellulitis may also cause itching. For example, people with athlete’s foot may experience itching on the skin between their toes.

While cellulitis does not cause a burning sensation on the affected skin, it may cause it to feel warm or hot to the touch.

Although itching is not a warning sign of cellulitis, it can indicate the presence of another infection. Anyone experiencing unexplained skin itchiness should share their concerns with a medical professional.

When should you be concerned about cellulitis?

Individuals who develop redness, swelling, or pain in certain areas of skin should visit a healthcare professional. These may be early signs of cellulitis.

Advanced cases of cellulitis may also cause nausea, vomiting, high fever, confusion, and dizziness. People who develop these symptoms should seek emergency medical treatment.

Cellulitis is a skin infection that occurs when bacteria invade the skin. The bacteria may enter the skin through superficial wounds such as cuts or bug bites. Cellulitis can also develop after other infections, such as athlete’s foot.

In most cases, cellulitis does not cause itchiness on the affected skin. However, itchiness may occur as the skin heals.

Individuals with symptoms of cellulitis should speak with a healthcare professional to learn more about their condition and treatment options. With prompt and effective treatment, many people recover fully.