Diagnosing, assessing and managing cellulitis
Intended for healthcare professionals
Evidence and practice    

Diagnosing, assessing and managing cellulitis

Heather Newton Nurse consultant tissue viability, Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust, Truro, England

Why you should read this article:
  • To recognise the presenting signs and symptoms of cellulitis

  • To understand the risk factors associated with the development of cellulitis

  • To enhance your knowledge of what is involved in cellulitis prevention and management

Cellulitis is an acute bacterial infection that affects the deep dermis and surrounding subcutaneous tissue. Although it is a common condition, it is often misdiagnosed because it can mimic a range of conditions that also cause inflamed, red, irritated and painful skin. Such misdiagnoses may lead to unnecessary hospital admissions and antibiotic overuse, with most alternative diagnoses being non-infectious. Undertaking a holistic patient assessment, skin assessment and thorough clinical history is important in the diagnosis of cellulitis, and it is vital to use a collaborative multidisciplinary approach in its acute management and to prevent recurrence. This article defines the term cellulitis and explores its presenting features. The author also discusses the associated risk factors, clinical assessment techniques and effective management strategies, as well as outlining the actions that nurses can take to prevent recurrence.

Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2023.e12187

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software



Conflict of interest

None declared

Newton H (2023) Diagnosing, assessing and managing cellulitis. Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2023.e12187

Published online: 04 December 2023

Want to read more?

Already subscribed? Log in


Unlock full access to RCNi Plus today

Save over 50% on your first 3 months

Your subscription package includes:
  • Unlimited online access to all 10 RCNi Journals and their archives
  • Customisable dashboard featuring 200+ topics
  • RCNi Learning featuring 180+ RCN accredited learning modules
  • RCNi Portfolio to build evidence for revalidation
  • Personalised newsletters tailored to your interests
RCN student member? Try Nursing Standard Student

Alternatively, you can purchase access to this article for the next seven days. Buy now