Cellulitis – Symptoms and causes

Overview A bacterial infection that affects the skin and makes it look swollen and red is called Cellulitis (sel-u-LIE-tis). The skin feels painful and warm when touched. Cellulitis usually affects the skin on the lower legs, but it can occur in the face, arms, and other areas. It occurs when a crack or break in […]

Overview

What You Need to Know About Cellulitis

A bacterial infection that affects the skin and makes it look swollen and red is called Cellulitis (sel-u-LIE-tis). The skin feels painful and warm when touched.

Cellulitis usually affects the skin on the lower legs, but it can occur in the face, arms, and other areas. It occurs when a crack or break in your skin allows bacteria to enter.

The infection is contagious if untreated, it can affect your lymph nodes and bloodstream and rapidly become life-threatening.

Cellulitis - NHS

Symptoms

Some of the symptoms of Cellulitis include;

  • The red area of skin that tends to expand
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Pain
  • Warmth
  • Fever
  • Red spots
  • Blisters
  • Skin dimpling

When to see a doctor

Treat the disease as soon as possible to avoid its spreading.

Consult a doctor if;

  • You have a red, swollen, tender rash or a rash that’s changing rapidly
  • You have a fever
  • If you have a rash that’s red, swollen, tender, and warm and it’s expanding but without fever seek medical attention immediately.

Causes

Cellulitis occurs when bacteria, breakthrough ur skin his bacterias include streptococcus and staphylococcus. The incidence of a more serious staphylococcus infection called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is increasing.

Although cellulitis can occur anywhere on your body, the most common location is the lower leg. Bacteria are most likely to enter disrupted areas of skin, such as where you’ve had recent surgery, cuts, puncture wounds, an ulcer, an athlete’s foot, or dermatitis.

Animal bites can cause cellulitis. Bacteria can also enter through areas of dry, flaky skin or swollen skin.

Risk factors

Some of the factors that increase the risk of cellulitis are;

  • Injury any cut, fracture, burn, or scrape gives bacteria an entry point.
  • Weakened immune system conditions that weaken your immune system such as diabetes, leukemia, and HIV/AIDS  leave you more susceptible to infections. Some medications also can weaken your immune system.
  • Skin conditions such as eczema, athlete’s foot, and shingles can cause breaks in the skin, which give bacteria an entry point.
  • Chronic swelling of your arms or legs (lymphedema) this condition sometimes follows surgery.
  • History of cellulitis having had cellulitis before makes you prone to develop it again.
  • Obesity being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing cellulitis.

Complications

Recurrent episodes of cellulitis may damage the lymphatic drainage system and cause chronic swelling of the affected limb.

Rarely, the infection can spread to the deep layer of tissue called the fascial lining. Necrotizing fasciitis is an example of a deep-layer infection. It’s an extreme emergency.

Prevention

If your cellulitis recurs, antibiotics are recommended. Take these precautions when you have a skin wound and to prevent cellulitis and other infections

  • Wash your wound daily with soap and water do this gently as part of your normal bathing.
  • Apply a protective cream or ointment for most surface wounds, an over-the-counter ointment (Vaseline, Polysporin, others) provides adequate protection.
  • Cover your wound with a bandage change bandages at least daily.
  • Watch for signs of infection redness, pain, and drainage all signal possible infection and the need for medical evaluation.

People with diabetes and those with poor circulation need to take extra precautions to prevent skin injury. Good skincare measures include the following:

  • Inspect your feet daily check your feet for signs of injury so you can catch infections early.
  • Moisturize your skin regularly lubricating your skin helps prevent cracking and peeling. Do not apply moisturizer to open sores.
  • Trim your fingernails and toenails carefully take care not to injure the surrounding skin.
  • Protect your hands and feet wear appropriate footwear and gloves.
  • Promptly treat infections on the skin’s surface (superficial), such as athletes foot superficial skin infections can easily spread from person to person. Don’t wait to start treatment.

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