Q:

What are the complications associated with untreated cellulitis?

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Complications associated with cellulitis include rapid spread of the infection through the bloodstream and lymph nodes, according to Mayo Clinic. Other complications include damage to the lymphatic system, which causes chronic swelling, and deep-tissue infection, which is an extreme emergency. Bone infection and gangrene, also known as tissue death, are also possible complications, Healthline reports.

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Patients who suspect they have cellulitis require prompt medical treatment, Healthline warns. If the infection spreads, it can be life-threatening.

Pain is usually associated with cellulitis, Healthline states. Other symptoms include redness, swelling and warmth in the affected area. Some patients also experience fever or a quickly spreading sore or rash. Signs of a serious infection include fatigue, chills, muscle ache and sweating.

Patients need immediate medical attention if the infection appears to be spreading, Healthline reports. Red streaks, lethargy and blistering can indicate the infection is on the move.

Doctors typically treat cellulitis with oral antibiotics, Healthline says. Doctors tell patients to elevate the affected area to reduce swelling. Cellulitis normally looks better within three days of starting treatment and clears up within seven to 10 days.

Cellulitis can result in hospitalization if the infection doesn't respond to oral antibiotics, Healthline explains. Patients with compromised immune systems or other pre-existing conditions may require a hospital stay to treat the infection.

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