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March 12, 2008 | rjlever | Comments 0

Is Cellulitis Contagious: Facts And Myths

The complex thing about cellulitis is that it can be caused by several factors. Cellulitis being contagious is one of the most common concerns among people who suspect they have cellulitis or are suffering from symptoms. So the question remains: Is cellulitis contagious? Let’s discuss the nature of this particular infection and some myths that imply the contagious nature of cellulitis.

Is Cellulitis Contagious Among People?

You cannot catch cellulitis from another human being. Cellulitis is an infection of the deeper layers of the skin, which are the dermis and subcutaneous tissue. On the other hand, most superficial skin infections such as impetigo are infectious because those kinds of infection are located at the skin’s top layer, which is the epidermis.

While cellulitis is not contagious, the cellulitis-causing bacteria from the infected person can transfer to your body. This can occur from direct contact with the open wound of the infected person. You won’t necessarily develop cellulitis. Rather, you can develop minor skin infections because of the bacteria.

Can I Catch Cellulitis From Animals?

While animal bites are one of the common causes or risk factors of cellulitis, an animal cannot “pass on” cellulitis to a human being. Any kind of injury such as puncture wounds, open sores, cuts, and lacerations pose a risk for developing cellulitis. Our skin is meant to protect us from pathogens and external hazards, so if it is broken or damaged, bacteria can easily get through and infect it.

You may develop cellulitis simply because of the cut or open wound made by an animal bite (even the tiny bite from mosquitoes can cause cellulitis). In other cases, an animal bite can greatly heighten your risk for developing cellulitis because the animal can be infected with pasteurella multocida. P. multocida is another type of bacteria that can lead to a diffuse localized cellulitis.

Can I Catch Cellulitis From Anthrax?

There have been many cases where anthrax has lead to cellulitis. Cutaneous anthrax, which involves infected skin, is a common type of anthrax. Anthrax infection is prevalent in those who process agricultural and animal products because animals or animal products can be contaminated by anthrax. However, contaminated meat is very rare and so are other natural causes of anthrax (anthrax is mostly used in biological warfare).

When you are infected with cutaneous anthrax, symptoms will often appear as raised, itchy bumps on the skin similar to a cellulitis symptom. In mild cases, patients feel slightly ill and in worse cases, a patient may experience chills, swollen lymph glands, and fever. With cutaneous anthrax, there is a risk of developing cellulitis. However, anthrax cannot be passed from person to person, so you are not at a higher risk of developing cellulitis because you are near/with someone who is infected with anthrax.

So, is cellulitis contagious? All the cases mentioned show that, although cellulitis can be caused by several factors such as physical injuries or other types of bacteria, it cannot be transferred from person to person or animal to person. In short, cellulitis is not contagious.

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