Nursing Diagnosis for Cellulitis

Medical Surgical Nursing: Nursing Diagnosis for Cellulitis
Nursing Diagnosis for Cellulitis: Overview and Prognosis of Cellulitis

Overview of Cellulitis | Nursing Diagnosis for Cellulitis

Cellulitis is a localized or diffuse inflammation of connective tissue with severe inflammation of dermal and subcutaneous layers of the skin. Cellulitis can be caused by normal skin flora or by exogenous bacteria, and often occurs where the skin has previously been broken: cracks in the skin, cuts, blisters, burns, insect bites, surgical wounds, intravenous drug injection or sites of intravenous catheter insertion. Skin on the face or lower legs is most commonly affected by this infection, though cellulitis can occur on any part of the body. The mainstay of therapy remains treatment with appropriate antibiotics, and recovery periods last from 48 hours to six months.

Erysipelas is the term used for a more superficial infection of the dermis and upper subcutaneous layer that presents clinically with a well-defined edge. Erysipelas and cellulitis often coexist, so it is often difficult to make a distinction between the two.

In Ludwig's angina, an acute and potentially life threatening condition, cellulitis occurs within the submandibular space.

Cellulitis is unrelated (except etymologically) to cellulite, a cosmetic condition featuring dimpling of the skin. (

Cellulitis is an infection of the skin, caused by bacteria that enter the skin through an opening. The most common bacteria are streptococcus and staphylococcus.

Bacteria may enter through fissures in the feet from fungal infections, through cracks in dry skin, from insect bites, or cuts from shaving. The elderly, immunocompromised patients, and patients with lymphedema, diabetes, or poor circulation are at greatest risk.

Prognosis of Cellulitis | Nursing Diagnosis for Cellulitis

If treatment is started early, the prognosis is good. If the symptoms don’t begin to resolve or the infection is on the face or widespread, hospitalization and IV antibiotics are needed. A severe cellulitis of deep tissue, necrotizing fasciitis, is caused by a streptococcal bacteria and is considered a medical emergency.

Signs and Symptoms of Cellulitis| Nursing Diagnosis for Cellulitis

  • Hot, red skin over the area of infection

  • Swollen and painful skin and tissue due to the infection

Interpreting Test Result of Cellulitis| Nursing Diagnosis for Cellulitis

  • CBC to check on the white blood cell count.

  • Culture of the wound to identify the organism causing the cellulitis.

  • Ultrasound of the leg to rule out a DVT—deep vein thrombosis.

Nursing Diagnosis for Cellulitis: Treatment of Cellulitis

Treatment of Cellulitis | Nursing Diagnosis for Cellulitis

Treatment for a beginning infection is oral antibiotics. If fever and body aches accompany the infection or if the face is involved or the area is extensive, hospitalization may be necessary. Empiric treatment is started immediately and is effective against the most common bacteria.

  • Cephalexin.

  • Dicloxacillin.

  • Levofloxacin.

  • Tetanus booster if needed.

  • Drainage of abscess by a surgeon if necessary.

  • Pain medications.

Nursing Diagnosis for Cellulitis and Nursing Interventions

Most Common Nursing Diagnosis for Cellulitis

  • Pain, discomfort

  • Risk of infection

  • Impaired skin integrity

Nursing Interventions for Cellulitis

  • Explain to the patient the importance of good hygiene.

  • Wash the affected area daily.

  • Use a topical antibiotic ointment and a dry dressing twice daily.

  • Elevate the area if possible.

  • Monitor for temperature, enlarging area of redness, increase in drainage.

  • Explain to the patient how to prevent openings in the skin by using proper skin care interventions.

  • Monitor feet and legs daily for cracks, fissures.

  • Use care in trimming nails, or visit podiatrist.

  • Use moisturizing lotions regularly.

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