Diagnosing cellulitis for the nondermatologist

Julio C. Sartori-Valinotti, Catherine C. Newman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Cellulitis, a form of soft-tissue infection involving the deep dermis and hypodermis, is frequently overdiagnosed, leading to inappropriate use of antibiotics. Misdiagnosis occurs in 10% to 30% of patients, mostly in the inpatient setting. For the nondermatologist, a systematic approach with a thorough history and physical examination along with in-depth knowledge of the most common conditions that simulate cellulitis will help narrow the differential diagnosis so as to avoid unnecessary tests, consultations, and expensive treatments. Although the list of cellulitis mimickers is extensive, there are several relatively common conditions that nondermatologists should be able to recognize.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e202-e217
JournalHospital Medicine Clinics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • Cellulitis
  • Contact dermatitis
  • Erysipelas
  • Lipodermatosclerosis
  • Lymphedema
  • Pretibial myxedema
  • Stasis dermatitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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