Cellulitis is a bacterial skin infection that is quite common but is also very serious. It is usually seen on the lower legs, but it can affect any part of the body. The affected skin is red, swollen,warm and very painful when touched. A break in the skin that allows bacteria to enter is what leads to this infection.
This is not an infection that can be left untreated. It can easily spread to your lymph nodes, followed by your bloodstream.
What Causes Cellulitis?
Cellulitis occurs when bacteria (most commonly staphylococcus and streptococcus) enter through a tear or crack in your skin. Though cellulitis can occur anywhere in the body, the most common region is the lower leg. The bacteria are most likely to enter disrupted skin areas, like where you recently had a surgery, puncture wounds, cuts, an ulcer, dermatitis or athlete’s foot. Animal bites can also cause cellulitis. Besides, bacteria can also enter through areas of flaky, dry, skin or swollen skin
What Are The Symptoms Of Cellulitis?
There are two stages of cellulitis. The first is when the infection first begins and starts to spread. Remember that this can happen to any part of your body. It is common for it to occur around wounds, damaged skin, cuts, or even bruises.
The 5 early symptoms of the first stage include:
1. Redness of the surrounding area
When the infection first begins, the area will become red. You might even notice red streaks starting to form around the infected area. This is your first symptom of cellulitis . This is when you need to get medical help before the condition gets worse. The red area of skin also tends to expand.
2. Swelling of the infected area
The area around the infection swells up. This is the result of inflammation or a buildup of fluid under the skin.
3. The infected area is warm to the touch
As the infection worsens, the area around it will feel warm to the touch. This is a clear indication that the infection is spreading, and you require medical help. The infected area will have a slightly higher temperature when you touch it than the rest of your skin.
4. The area is painful to touch
The next progression would be that the area becomes painful to touch. The whole area around the wound will have a higher sensitivity than the rest of your skin. Even a gentle touch can cause you pain as the area is now very sensitive.
5. Pus buildup or leakage of clear or yellow liquid
In some cases, you will notice a buildup or leakage of clear or yellow fluid. This is pus that is formed due to the infection. .
If you see the following symptoms, you should seek help immediately. These include:
● Fever or chills
● Swelling and hardening of the infected area
● Pain around the infected area
● Numbness around the area when pressing
If any of the symptoms mentioned above start appearing in the patient, then reaching them to an emergency room is crucial. If delayed, then this infection could become life-threatening.
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Several factors put you at increased risk of cellulitis:
Many factors can easily put you at risk of getting cellulitis. Some of them are listed as follows:
● An injury: This is the most common cause of cellulitis. When you sustain an injury where your skin breaks, this allows room for bacteria to enter the body and bloodstream. This could be due to an injury, recent surgery, burn, or cut.
● Having a weak immune system: If you have a weak immune system, then the chances of you getting cellulitis goes up. This is also the case for people suffering from medical conditions that weaken your immune system like leukemia, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, etc.
● Obesity: Another common cause is obesity, which can increase the risk of you developing cellulitis.
● Preexisting skin conditions: If you have preexisting skin conditions, you will have a higher chance of getting cellulitis. Skin conditions like athlete’s foot, eczema, or shingles can lead to breaks in your skin. These breaks or cuts can easily let bacteria into your body, which will soon develop into cellulitis.
● If you have had cellulitis: If you have experienced a case of cellulitis before, then your chances of developing it again are much higher.
How To Treat Cellulitis?
When you get your cellulitis treated, your doctor will run some tests to prescribe the best medication. These are usually antibiotics that will cure your current infection.
How to ensure that a skin wound does not progress into cellulitis ?
Cleaning your wound: If you have a cut or wound, the best course of action is to keep it clean. When bathing, you can clean the wound with soap.
Using an ointment: There are many ointments and creams that you can apply on an open cut or wound. These are meant to provide protection to the wound as well as increase the healing time. This will create a layer through which bacteria cannot enter.
Using a bandage: When you have a cut or wound, the best course of action is to keep it covered. This will prevent any bacteria from getting it. It will also protect your wound from environmental pollutants. This will also keep the wound dry and safe. Change bandages daily.
Keeping keen watch on signs of progression like pain , swelling, pus or expanding redness .
How To Prevent cellulitis
There are ways in which you can prevent a cellulitis infection.
● Keep your feet safe: Always make sure to check for injuries around your legs and feet. When you notice a wound or cut, make sure to clean it first, then apply medication.
● Keep your skin moisturized: This is something that will increase the strength of your skin and prevent it from peeling or cracking. Using a good moisturizer will keep your skin soft and make it harder to get cuts or scratches. But do not use moisturize on open sores
● Get help immediately: When you suffer from a cut or wound, make sure to get medical treatment immediately. This will prevent the infection from spreading and will also prevent the symptoms from getting worse.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What other medical conditions can cellulitis cause?
A. A cellulitis infection can easily lead to other medical conditions such as Sepsis, Necrotizing Fasciitis, Abscess, etc. These are all dangerous conditions that can easily take your life. Getting a cellulitis infection treated on time is therefore crucial.
Q. Is there a diet to prevent cellulitis?
A. While there is no specific diet to prevent cellulitis , a well balanced and healthy diet with less of unhealthy fats and refined food , can help you prevent diabetes , obesity etc which pose high risk for cellulitis .
Q. What complications can arise due to cellulitis?
A. This infection will become life-threatening if ignored. If left untreated, the infection can lead to other infections like meningitis and multiple organ failure in the worst-case scenario. Cellulitis in a patient with diabetes can lead to gangrene, leading to the loss of a limb.
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