What Is Cellulitis?

What is cellulitis

Cellulitis is a bacterial skin infection commonly caused by the streptococcus and staphylococcus bacteria. Our skin already has many kinds of bacteria living on the surface but when you have any type of open wound, these bacteria’s are able to break in and cause an infection.

 

Risk Factors

Skin wounds are the most common cause of cellulitis since bacteria are easily able to get into your wounded area and infect it.

Wounds on your feet are the most common place that people get infected mainly because many of us love to walk around barefoot at home and even outside sometimes.

Cracks and peeling skin between your toes are also a risk factor for cellulitis.

Insects can also carry the bacteria on them especially if they recently bit someone who is suffering from cellulitis. Mosquitos are most commonly the culprit but you can also contract the bacteria by an animal or human bites which are less common than insects.

History of certain diseases such as peripheral vascular disease, ulcers that are caused by diseases and the use of medications that suppress your immune system also play a vital role in contracting cellulitis.

 

Symptoms

Common symptoms of cellulitis are fever, pain or tenderness in the area that’s affected, redness and inflammation that continues to spread over time, skin rashes or sores that quickly spread with the first 24 hours, glossy, tight skin much like you’d see if you burned yourself and your skin will also appear warm in the area that is red and painful.

Other more serious but rare symptoms that can occur from cellulitis are hair loss in the infected site, nausea and vomiting and joint stiffness what is caused by the swelling.

General signs of infection are fatigue, chills and shaking, muscle aches and pains, sweating, general ill feeling and warm skin.

 

Tests

Physical exams are the most common test done by doctors to determine if you have cellulitis. They’ll make note of the swelling, redness and warmth of your skin as well as swollen glands such as your lymph nodes if you were infected near that area. Your doctor may also perform a blood culture, CBC or complete blood count, or a culture of the material found in the affected area.

 

Treatments

Oral antibiotics are the most common treatment for cellulitis along with a lot of rest and keeping the infected area raised to reduce swelling. If the doctor believes your condition is serious enough, a hospital stay might be needed. This will require antibiotics being given through an IV along with close observation.

For most people, cellulitis will go away within a week of taking antibiotics. Usually for people who have chronic diseases or a poor immune system, extended treatment might be required in order to eliminate the infection.

It’s easy to prevent cellulitis if you wear shoes to keep your feet protected especially if you have a cut anywhere.

Keeping any wounds clean with soap and water along with antibiotic cream and a bandage is the best way to prevent any infections. It’s important that you take care of your wounds no matter how small they are because it can turn into a serious problem in the blink of an eye.

Image credit: alexraths / 123RF Stock Photo


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