Cellulitis is an acute bacterial infection that can develop when the outer skin breaks and get exposed due to a cut, scrape or injury. Having the information below at your fingertips will save you the trouble of complication. All uncomplicated skin infections have the potential to become complicated, cellulitis inclusive.
WHAT CAUSES CELLULITIS?
Cellulitis infection is most common in the lower extremities of the body. It is most often caused by the streptococcus or staphylococcus bacteria group.
THE RISK FACTORS:
A wound on the skin, usually a cut, burn, tear or scrape can provide a way for bacteria to enter.
Skin conditions such as eczema, chicken pox, shingles, lymphedema (chronic swelling), and fungus infections can predispose you to cellulitis infection.
Conditions such as HIV/AIDS, diabetes, kidney disease, or any other that affect the immune system, can compromise the body defense mechanism leaving one more susceptible to skin infections.
Bites from animals such as cats, dogs may also result in cellulitis.
Obesity also has been connected to a higher risk of getting cellulitis.
If you have had cellulitis in the past, you are prone to getting it again. Be warned!
SYMPTOMS AND SIGNS
A red, hot, and sometimes itchy rash that continues to spread and swell is a classical symptom.
The skin may look like the surface of an orange. Pain, tenderness or soreness occurs near the site of the infection. Chills, fatigue and fever also occurs as the infection advances.
Cellulitis left untreated or improperly treated can lead to complications such as sepsis, bone infection, meningitis (brain infection) or lymphangitis (you don’t want to let that happen).
Cellulitis is absolutely treatable and treatment depends on the severity of the infection. Patients are usually prescribed oral antibiotics to stop the infection. Most patients respond within a few days, and fully recover within seven to ten days.
Commonly prescribed oral antibiotics include cephalexin, levofloxacin, moxifloxacin.
If MRSA is suspected, Vancomycin (intravenous) is the drug of choice.
Patients are strongly advised to take the full course of the antibiotics (usually for 14 days) to ensure the infection is properly treated.
Ensure not to skip doses or stop the antibiotics abruptly, this can cause resistance, making it more difficult to treat the infection.
In severe cases of cellulitis, hospitalization may be required as administration of antibiotics intravenously or by injection will be needed to clear up the infection more quickly.
Clean and dress all wounds properly (scrape, cut or burn).
Bandage deep wound with sterile gauze and change it daily until the wound has healed.
Elevate your legs. Poor circulation may slow down your healing time, but elevating the area where you have cellulitis may help.
Monitor the wound for signs of infection. If you notice swelling, itching, draining or turning red seek medical help.
If you have diabetes, eczema or another disorder that affects the skin, do well to take extra caution with your skin.
Trim your nails properly so as not to accidentally cut your skin.
Treat athlete’s foot promptly, so it doesn’t turn into a more severe infection.
Treat lymphedema to prevent your skin from cracking.
Avoid activities that lead to cuts and nicks on your legs and feet (hiking through brushy areas, rough play, gardening, etc.).
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THE MERCK MANUAL OF DIAGNOSIS AND THERAPY NINETEENTH EDITION