What’s The Difference Between Cellulitis and Cellulite?


    Cellulitis and cellulite have very similar sounding names.

    At first thought, you’d just deem them as the same, right?


    Cellulite and cellulitis are drastically different and it’s important not to confuse the two.

    Each has their own set of specific symptoms, causes, and treatments.

    One of them is harmless and one of them can be life threatening if left untreated.

    So it’s crucial to know the distinction between cellulitis and cellulite.

    Let’s break each term down.

    What Is Cellulite?

    Different Skin Types
    Image via Women Daily Magazine

    Cellulite is a skin condition that’s harmless but isn’t cosmetically appealing.

    It’s also referred to as visually descriptive terms such as orange-peel skin, cottage cheese, hail damage, fat dimples, and the mattress phenomenon.

    The names paint a lovely picture in your mind…

    About 90% of all women will experience cellulite at some point in their lives.

    Cellulite is caused by subcutaneous fatty deposits pressing into the skin and underlying connective tissue.

    The pressure on the connective tissue makes it tighten and pull down on the skin.

    This causes the skin to dimple, ripple, and become uneven in texture.

    It almost exclusively occurs in women, but it has been seen in children and men.

    Now, What Is Cellulitis?

    Cellulitis Inflammation
    Image via Care Happiness

    When you break it down, cellulitis literally means inflammation of cells.

    Cellulitis is far from a harmless cosmetic problem.

    It’s actually a bacterial infection that causes inflammation and infection in the dermis, the deepest layer of skin.

    The infection can spread down further into the subcutaneous fat and soft tissue layers that are positioned directly under the skin.

    This bacterial infection has the ability to cause great damage to the deeper layers of skin and underlying layers.

    The depth of the damage depends on the person, unique situation, and treatment.

    Cellulitis begins as a small, red patch on the skin.

    It starts to spread and brings about painful inflammation, swelling and redness.

    As the infection grows, it usually triggers a fever, general ill feelings, and swollen glands.

    What Causes Cellulitis?

    Leg Pain

    The most common cause of cellulitis is Staphylococcus aureus or “staph” bacteria.

    But many other bacteria such as Streptococcus also cause it.

    The bacteria invade the body usually through a small cut, blister, or wound and begin to spread the infection.

    Cellulitis most commonly affects the lower legs, arms, neck, or head.

    However, the infection can occur anywhere on the body.

    Cellulitis is painful and appears as a large, red rash that’s tender.

    So, What Causes Cellulite?

    Image via eCellulitis

    Cellulite is caused by several different factors.

    Hormones play a large part in cellulite production, namely estrogen, which is abundant in women.

    Women also naturally have a higher body fat percentage.

    That’s why women are much more susceptible to getting cellulite compared to men.

    Other causes of cellulite are genetics, age, thickness of skin, stress, poor diet, smoking, and lack of physical activity.

    Treatment Options For Cellulite

    Currently, cellulite can’t be 100% cured.

    But it can be greatly reduced and diminished.

    One of the most common and affordable treatments for cellulite is a cellulite cream.

    Cellulite creams include active ingredients that breakdown fat cells, boost collagen production, increase blood flow and circulation, and tighten skin.

    Other ways to treat cellulite are through a healthy diet, exercise, massage, plenty of hydration, and adequate sleep.

    This ensures you’re body is working in tip-top shape.

    WebMD suggests using a self-tanner to help disguise any cellulite dimples.

    How Do You Treat Cellulitis?

    Image via AZ Healthy Families

    Bacteria cause cellulitis, so the appropriate treatment is administration of antibiotics.

    It’s crucial to be treated as soon as you can to avoid any serious damage.

    If the infection is left untreated it can spread to muscle, cause blood poisoning, or kill the affected tissues.

    A strong antibiotic is usually given or a combination of several antibiotics, either orally or intravenously.

    If treated before the infection heavily spreads, cellulitis is fully recoverable.

    Sometimes the affected area will remain red or swollen.

    To prevent future problems, keep an eye out for lesions or red spots and disinfect any cuts or scrapes right away.

    If redness or swelling increases, make sure you visit your doctor to get checked out.

    A Final Wrap Up

    Talk to your doctor
    Image via New York Post

    We learned that even though they sound similar, cellulite and cellulitis are very different.

    Each requires drastically different attention.

    Go to the doctor right away if you think you have cellulitis or are experiencing a painful, red rash.

    It’s better to be safe than sorry.

    The doctor can easily administer proper antibiotics.

    As for cellulite, it’s far less severe but still causes frustration and embarrassment.

    Eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, drink plenty of water, and indulge in routine massages.

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    About the Author

    About the Author: Hi, I'm Elizabeth Adams, the founder and Senior Editor of Cellulite.com. I’m the one who personally tries out most of the cellulite creams, procedures and treatments you’ll read about on this site. Obviously, I’m obsessed with finding the best (and most realistic) solutions to removing cellulite! .