Cellulitis

Cellulitis refers to a common bacteria skin infection which can be potentially serious as well. Cellulitis occurs as a swollen, reddened region of the skin that may feel tender and hot. Cellulitis is a skin condition that rapidly spreads and the skin regions on the lower leg are most often affected. However, this condition can occur on the face or body as well.

Cellulitis may only affect the skin, but it can also occur in the underlying tissues of your skin and can radiate to the bloodstream and lymph nodes as well.

If the condition is not treated, it may spread and become life-threatening. Therefore, it is important that you see your doctor as soon as symptoms begin to occur.

Signs and symptoms

Signs and symptoms of cellulitis include:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Tenderness
  • Warmth
  • Fever

Changes in skin condition may accompany a fever as well. With time, the affected area may expand and small red spots may begin to appear on the affected regions of the skin. Rarely, small blisters may also occur as rupture overtime.

When to seek medical attention

It is important that you treat the condition during the early staged because the infection may worsen and spread rapidly around the body.

See your doctor if:

  • You have a swollen, tender and red rash or a rash that appears to change rapidly
  • The rash is accompanied with a fever

And especially if the rash is:

  • Red, swollen, warm, tender and expanding, without a fever

Causes

Cellulitis usually occurs when bacteria enters through broken regions or cracks in the skin. Commonly, streptococcus and staphylococcus cause this infection. Bacteria can enter through cuts, areas where you have had surgery recently, puncture wounds, athlete’s foot, ulcers or dermatitis.

Certain insect bites such as spider bites can also transfer bacteria to the body that may bring rise to this infection.

Treatment

See your doctor as soon as symptoms begin to appear. Your doctor will most likely prescribe an oral antibiotic, which you will have to take for about two weeks. If you do not respond to treatment or if you have a high fever, see your doctor as you may require to be hospitalized so that antibiotics are given intravenously.

It is important that you take the prescribed drugs and antibiotics as directed by your health care provider and avoid skipping doses as this may make medication ineffective. Even if you begin to feel better, finish the entire medication course so ensure recovery. Your doctor may also advise elevating the affected area.

Prevention

To prevent infections such as cellulitis, follow these self-care tips:

  • Wash your wound with soap and water daily as a part of everyday bathing
  • Apply a topical antibiotic ointment on the wounds to prevent infection
  • Make sure you look out for signs of infection such as pus, drainage, red streaks or fever
  • Check your feet regularly to ensure that you are not injured
  • Keep your skin moisturized using a moisturizer to prevent scaling and peeling, which may make skin susceptible to infection
  • Trim your toenails and fingernails making sure you do not cause a wound
  • Treat superficial skin infections quickly as these tend to be contagious

Wear appropriate gloves and footwear to keep your hands and feet protected.

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