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Cellulitis is a skin infection that can affect your lower legs and other parts of the body. It is a serious bacterial infection with life-threatening complications. Therefore, you need to address the issue as early as possible. With proper treatment, you can overcome the serious bacterial infection on your skin without severe damage. It mostly affects your lower legs but can occur in areas like arms, face, etc. The problem can cause your skin to appear red and swollen. You will find the affected area warm and painful to touch. Without medical assistance, the infection spreads to other areas of the body like your bloodstream and lymph node. So, it can rapidly become a life-threatening complication.
Cellulitis is not contagious in nature. So, it does not spread from one person to another. But, you put yourself at risk of catching the infection if you have an open wound and your skin touches a person infected with the problem. People with other skin conditions like athlete’s foot or eczema can catch the infection from others. It also affects the individual with a weakened immune system as the body cannot prevent the infection from attacking the body. Are you interested in knowing more about the specific skin infection? Then, read ahead to get detailed information about the infection and how to alleviate it from your life.
Symptoms Of Cellulitis
When a person suffers from a skin infection, it triggers several signs. So, when you have cellulitis, you can experience signs, mostly on one side of the body. The symptoms associated with cellulitis are:
- The affected area of the skin turns red that expands with passing time
- Skin warm to touch
- Tenderness in the affected area
- Red Spots
- Skin dimpling
Symptoms Of Cellulitis Needing Immediate Medical Attention
When you suffer from the infection, it needs proper medical treatment. Else, it can spread throughout your body rapidly. Cellulitis becomes an emergency situation when you observe the following signs:
- You suffer from fever
- The appearance of a rash with swelling, tenderness or pain
- The rash that changes rapidly
Contact your doctor immediately when you see the appearance of a rash that causes swelling and tenderness without fever.
Causes Of Cellulitis
Cellulitis is the skin infection triggered by bacteria. It mostly starts in skin injuries you suffer like:
- Surface cuts
- Bug Bites
- Surgical wounds
- Animal Bites
- Puncture Wounds
- Athlete’s foot
Bacteria can enter disrupted, flaky, swollen or dry skin. The bacteria can result in the specific skin infection. In most cases, Staphylococcus (staph) and streptococcus (strep) bacteria cause skin infections. Some people can suffer from a serious type of staphylococcus. The infection called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has serious consequences including death. It is the increasingly reported problem of cellulitis that needs immediate medical attention.
The bacteria responsible for the skin infection mostly enters through your lower leg. But, it can occur from any parts of your body. Your lower leg is more to injuries and cuts making it the prominent location for the skin infection.
Risk Factor Associated With Cellulitis
When you suffer from any injury, it gives the bacteria an entry point. So, if you have a scrape, burn, fracture, or cut, then you are prone to infection. Through the entry point, the bacteria can enter your bloodstream and cause serious infection.
Weakened Immune System
When you have a weak immune system, it fails to stop the bacteria from affecting your body. Certain medical conditions can weaken your immune system like:
Having the above-mentioned problems can make you susceptible to infections. When you take certain medications for your underlying health problem, it can also weaken your immune system.
Some types of skin conditions can cause skin damage. So, you can experience breaks in the skin. It gives the bacteria a good entry point to enter your bloodstream and trigger infection. Therefore, people with the following condition are more prone to cellulitis:
- Athlete’s Foot
People with such conditions need to maintain caution to avoid such bacterial attack and subsequent infection.
It is the chronic condition leading to swelling of your arms as well as legs. It mostly occurs after surgery. So, the bacteria enter the body and attack your immune system through the surgical wounds. Post-operative care is essential to avoid such problems.
History Of Cellulitis
People who have suffered from the sin infection in the past can develop it again. So, if you have a history of the disease, then you need to maintain caution.
If you weigh higher than the necessary BMI (Body Mass Index), then you are obese. Having a sedentary lifestyle can make you overweight, which puts you at risk of many diseases. So, obese or overweight people can develop serious skin infection more easily compared to others.
Complications Due To Cellulitis
You need to understand that skin infection can trigger serious complications. Without proper management, you can suffer from fatal problems. Here some of the problems you can encounter with cellulitis:
Spreading Of Infection
Without medical assistance, the infection can spread to other parts of your body through your bloodstream. So, it affects areas like lymph system, bones, nervous system, or heart. Severe infections can cause issues like:
Extensive Tissue Damage
The specific skin infection can lead to tissue damage. At times, the problem can result in gangrene (tissue death). In rare cases, the infection spreads to the deep layer of your tissue. The tissue known as the fascial lining can get affected due to the problem. It can result in the extreme emergency condition known as necrotizing fasciitis.
When you experience recurrent episodes of cellulitis, it can result in damage to your lymphatic drainage system. So, you can suffer from chronic swelling of the affected limb.
So, you need to manage the skin infection to prevent it from affecting you adversely. Take medical assistance to deal with the problem in a proper manner. People affected by cellulitis once in their life can expect the problem to crop up again in the future. Therefore, take preventive steps to deal with it better.
Once you see the symptoms indicating the presence of serious infection, contact your doctor. Your doctor can assist you in determining the actual problem and find the perfect treatment to overcome it. Your doctor can use the following diagnostic techniques to determine the exact problem:
A physical examination of the wound or the area affected by infection can help your doctor get an idea about the problem. So, by looking at the skin, your doctor can diagnose cellulitis. The physical examination can reveal the following:
- The swelling of the affected area
- Redness and warmth of the infected area
- Swollen glands
Depending on the severity of the symptoms, your doctor can take the next step. Your doctor monitors the area for the next few days. It is to check if the infection spreads to other areas. In such cases, you can see the redness and swelling in other areas. So, your doctor can suggest additional tests to determine the bacterial presence.
Your blood sample is taken and sent to the laboratory for testing. The bacterial culture can help identify the organism triggering the infection. So, it is effective in determining the treatment option. Your doctor can prescribe an effective antibiotic based on your blood culture.
It is another diagnostic technique to determine the type of bacteria affecting your skin surface. The skin sample from the affected surface can look for bacteria that triggers the problem. Your doctor collects the skin sample by swabbing sterile cotton swab on the infection. The non-risk method of diagnosing bacteria on your skin surface can cause you no damage. So, the test can determine the bacterial presence and its type.
Based on the diagnosis, your doctor can come up with the ideal treatment option to alleviate the problem. With prompt medical assistance, you can avoid further complication associated with the problem.
Treatment Options Available For Cellulitis
The treatment method adopted by your doctor depends on the severity of the problem. If you seek treatment early, you can alleviate the problem by taking some antibiotics. Different types of antibiotics can treat the problem. But, the type of antibiotics suggested by your doctor depends on the type of bacteria causing the infection on your skin. So, the different treatment options available to deal with the skin infection are:
It is ideal for the mild cases of cellulitis that has not spread extensively. You need to take the oral antibiotics prescribed by your doctor to know its effects. The doctor checks if the infection responds to the prescribed antibiotics. You need to continue taking the medication for five to ten days based on your doctor’s advice. At times, you have to continue taking the oral antibiotic pill for at fourteen days to get complete relief. The signs and symptoms associated with the skin infection start disappearing after taking the oral antibiotics for a few days.
If oral antibiotics do not show improvement, then you need to stay in the hospital. Your doctor can order hospital stay when you experience the following signs after taking antibiotics:
- Worsening of other signs
Therefore, you need to stay in hospital and get intravenous antibiotics. So, your doctor prescribes a stronger dose of antibiotics. The doctor provides it through your veins. You need to complete the antibiotics course, as suggested by your doctor. You must never stop taking oral or intravenous medication after seeing an improvement. In most cases, the antibiotics suggested by your doctor can alleviate problems caused due to infections by staphylococci or streptococci.
In most cases, the infection can clear with the use of antibiotics. But, some people can develop an abscess due to cellulitis. In such cases, your doctor suggests invasive surgery to drain the abscess. During the invasive procedure, the surgeon applies medication to numb the area. After numbing it, the surgeon makes a cut to drain the abscess. So, the cut allows the pus to drain out from the abscess. The cut is covered with a dressing for healing properly. You will have a scar after the surgery.
Steps To Take While Recovering From Cellulitis Surgery
While recovering from the surgery, you can experience pain. But, you recover from the signs after one or two days after the surgery. You need to take antibiotics as prescribed by your doctor to prevent infection. The antibiotics taken for a specified duration of time will eliminate the bacterial presence.
Always keep the wound clean to help proper healing. You need to clean the wound as per the doctor’s instruction. Cover the affected area of the skin to speed the healing process. Following your doctor’s instruction properly will speed up the healing process without any complications.
Home Remedies To Alleviate Discomfort Due To Cellulitis
Apart from getting the proper medical treatment, you can also opt for some home remedies. It will reduce the discomfort associated with your skin infection. So, you can opt for the following steps to ease the pain as well as swelling:
You can place a cold compress or a damp cloth on the affected area. It will offer you comfort. So, you can place the cold compress as often as needed to get relief from pain and swelling.
You can ask your doctor to prescribe pain medication that can offer you relief. The over-the-counter pain medication treats the pain and distress associated with the problem.
Elevate The Affected Area
If you suffer from cellulitis, then elevate the affected part of your body. It will improve blood circulation and prevent swelling in the area.
You can ask your doctor if it might help to wear compression stockings or wraps to alleviate the swelling. Based on your doctor’s advice you can wear it to get relief.
Preventing Cellulitis From Worsening
Some people can experience the problem again as the infection can recur. So, you need to take preventive antibiotics to avoid it. Your doctor can prescribe the medication once you suffer the wound again. You can prevent deeper skin infection from affecting your life by taking some precautions. It will help you avoid the issue from adversely affecting your life. So, you can follow the pointers suggested below:
- You need to wash the wound with soap and water. The gentle administration can prevent bacteria from affecting you. So, you can do this gently as a part of the normal bathing routine.
- Try to apply ointment or cream on the wound. You can use the over-the-counter ointment for your surface wounds. Therefore, you can use polysporin, Vaseline, and other creams to get adequate protection.
- You can protect the wounds by covering it with a bandage. So, change the bandage at least daily to overcome the adverse effects of cellulitis.
- Always check for infection when you suffer from any wounds. If you see pain, redness or drainage. It can indicate the possibility of infection. Therefore, you need an immediate medical evaluation to manage the problem.
Preventing Cellulitis From Recurring
If you have a history of cellulitis, then it can occur again. It can also affect people with diabetes frequently. So, people with high blood sugar levels need to take utmost care to prevent skin injury. It is also applicable to individuals who suffer from poor circulation. Such people need to take extra care to prevent skin infections. It is due to the fact that injuries take a long time to heal when you suffer from diabetes or poor blood circulation. So, it gives bacteria an ample chance and time to enter the bloodstream and trigger infection. Therefore, it is essential to include good skin care measures. You can follow the steps suggested below to prevent complications occurring due to cellulitis affecting frequently:
Regular Feet Inspection
Your feet are prone to accidents and injuries compared to other body parts. So, check your feet regularly for any signs of injury. Inspecting your feet can help you catch the infections easily.
Moisturize Skin Regularly
You need to keep your skin moisturized to prevent dryness, cracking, and peeling. So, use a moisturizer to lubricate your skin and keep them hydrated. While using the moisturizer, avoid application on open sores. It can irritate the sores and trigger complications.
Trim Fingernails And Toenails Carefully
Diabetic people need to maintain caution while performing simple tasks like trimming the nails on finger and toes. So, it is important to take care not to injure the surrounding skin. The small scrapes or cuts can cause bacteria to enter your body and trigger cellulitis.
Wear Protective Accessories
You need to protect your hands and feet from scrapes and cuts while gardening or doing other chores. Therefore, it is important to wear appropriate footwear and gloves.
Treat Infections Immediately
It is essential to treat even superficial injuries. So, when you observe the problem on the surface of your skin like athlete’s foot, then treat it immediately. Never delay the treatment as it can cause the infection to spread easily to other areas.
If you weigh more (high BMI), then reduce weight to avoid the cellulitis from affecting you frequently.
With immediate medical attention, you can ward off cellulitis with just taking antibiotics for seven to ten days. But, remember you can get the infection in the future. So, you need to take precautionary measures to avoid the problem. Your doctor can put you on a longer dose of antibiotics to avoid the problem from cropping up again. You can also adopt the preventive measures suggested above to prevent injuries or wounds. By taking proper care of your skin, you can prevent any injury and subsequent skin infections.View Article Sources