Dr. Madeline Chatlain

What is cellulitis?

Cellulitis literally means "inflammation of the cells". It is a potentially life-threatening bacterial infection that is of particular concern to the lymphedema patient. Although the infection may begin as a small area of inflammation, because of the high-protein environment underneath the skin (dermal lymphatics), the infection may spread quickly and invasively, not only affecting the surface of the skin, but the lymph nodes and bloodstream.

Left untreated, the bacterial infection could quickly become a life- threatening condition. This is why it is important for every lymphedema patient to be educated in the signs and symptoms and steps to be taken when this condition is suspected.