Leg Cellulitis – What Is Important To Know

leg cellulitis

Cellulitis is a bacterial infection affecting the skin and tissues of the skin. There are no particular bacteria which is responsible for this infection. The infection affects the skins inner layers, dermis and tissues. This medical condition of skin is not restricted to a certain race or age group, it is very commonly found among people.

This infection is not contagious. Cellulitis of the leg affects the leg area causing redness, pain along with swelling. The lymph nodes also become tender and inflamed. This type of infection mostly affects the legs, and feet.

If left untreated the infection may turn life threatening and may necessitate immediate medical attention.

 

Symptoms

The symptoms of leg cellulitis include redness of the spot which is infected. The other symptoms include inflammation, warmth, pains and tenderness. These changes to the skin may sometimes be accompanied by fever. Over time the redness of the skin expands and small red spots may appear. Occasionally small blisters may form and rupture.

 

Causes

A streptococcus bacterium is responsible for the cause of infections in case of leg infections. This bacterium’s are generally found on the skin and in the throat region. These bacteria’s are one of the reasons for infections in adults, while it the Hib influenza type B bacteria which is the main cause of cellulitis among children under 3 years of age. Leg cellulitis is most common.

The bacteria can enter body through cracked skin, wounds, surgery, or due athlete’s foot. Some insects like spider bites can also transmit the bacteria to form an infection. Swollen as well as dry and flaky skin can form an access point for bacteria.

 

Risk Factors

People with certain risk factors have a high tendency to develop leg cellulitis. The risk factors include: cuts on the skin, obesity, wounds due to surgery, psoriasis, eczema, chickenpox, chronic kidney disease, HIV/AIDS, weak immune system, illegal use of IV drugs are some of the risk factors. These risk factors do not always cause leg cellulitis, but increases the chances of infection.

 

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of leg cellulitis is done by taking blood samples, analysis of the patient’s medical history, and also through physical examinations. By looking at the infected region the physician can easily diagnose this infection. The doctor will check for any redness, swelling, cuts, and open wounds in the area from where the bacteria could enter.

If the external signs are similar to cellulitis then the doctor will go for a blood test.

 

Treatment of leg cellulitis

The treatment for leg cellulitis usually involves oral antibiotics. After a few days of dosage the symptoms and signs of cellulitis will start disappearing. Even after complete antibiotic treatments fever and symptoms don’t disappear the doctor may ask the patient to be hospitalized for administering antibiotics through veins.

The choice of antibiotics depends on the conditions and symptoms. Sometimes patients do experience recurrence of cellulitis even after antibiotic treatments, in such cases treatment may need to be extended for a longer time period.

 

Prevention

Some of the preventive steps to be followed are: Wash the wound with gentle soap and water, apply antibiotic creams after a wash, and check for any redness or blisters. People suffering from diabetes need to be extra careful about any cuts and wounds. Diabetics will have to keep their skin moisturized, protect their hands and feet by wearing gloves and good footwear.

Any kind of skin infections need to be treated immediately. Leg cellulitis is a very common infection of the skin and can affect people of all ages, but they mostly affect middle aged and elderly people. With proper care and attention one can prevent the occurrence of this infection.

Image credit: macniak / 123RF Stock Photo


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