Cellulitis

CELLULITIS legs

Last Updated August 23rd, 2019

When certain types of bacteria such as staphylococcus make their way into the body through a cut or wound, it can lead to a bacterial infection called cellulitis. This is seen as redness and inflammation of the cut or wound.
Cellulitis generally starts as a small patch that spreads over a period of time within hours. The infection spreads to surrounding tissues causing inflammation and redness. The patient generally becomes ill with the passage of time such as getting fever, chills, and malaise. The affected area becomes warm to touch with erythema and edema associated with it.
Some basic precautions can aid in fast recovery of cellulitis. Always try to keep the cellulitis covered to avoid irritation. Keep the area clean and dry by avoiding exposure to water. Keep the affected area elevated and apply cool compress to the area. Make sure to take antibiotics regularly as prescribed and minimise the use of pain medications.
Certain red flags can easily be identified when it comes to cellulitis. These include experiencing increase in temperature with associated chills and malaise, redness and inflammation spreading at a rapid pace, increase in warmth, extreme tenderness with any contact, and most importantly drainage from the wound.

Overview

One of the primary functions of the skin is to serve as a protective barrier between the internal organs and tissues of the body and the external environment that is teeming with microorganisms, dirt, irritants, and toxins. In this way, your skin helps to maintain the sterility of your body’s internal environment and prevent infections. However, the skin itself is actually home to a wide variety of microscopic organisms including bacteria and mites. Under normal circumstances, the body’s immune mechanisms succeed in controlling the overgrowth of these microbes. Despite this, it is quite possible for bacterial infections to occur, especially when the skin becomes punctured or grazed, allowing access to deeper tissues.

 

What Is Cellulitis?

CELLULITIS skin anatomySkin infections can be of several different types. Cellulitis is one form of skin infection and this is usually caused by bacteria. Common bacterial agents responsible for cellulitis include Streptococcus and Staphylococcus, both of which are normally present on the skin. Having untreated wounds, cuts or sores in the skin is the most common risk factor. Cellulitis is recognized by a red skin rash that is tender and warm to the touch. Some patients may also have additional symptoms such as fever and chills.

 

How Does This Occur?

Human skin is composed of multiple layers of tissue. The outermost of these is the layer called the epidermis. Beneath the epidermis lies a layer of connective tissue called the dermis. This is the region of your skin that contains hair follicles and the sweat glands. The final and innermost stratum of skin is called the hypodermis which is largely composed of fat.

Cellulitis occurs when bacteria manage to penetrate the epidermis and infect the dermis and the hypodermis. Hence, it is not confined to the outermost layer of skin, the epidermis. This happens when your skin sustains injuries such as abrasions, cuts or even deep lacerations. Even if the breakages in the skin are too small to notice, they provide sufficient opportunities for bacteria such as Staphylococcus and Streptococcus that normally reside on the surface of the skin to then infiltrate the deeper layers of skin tissue. In recent times, a more resilient form of Staphylococcus called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has increasingly been implicated in causing cellulitis.

CELLULITIS legsLess, often, cellulitis can also be caused by existing infections within the body. In such cases, the infection can affect otherwise healthy and intact skin. For more details on potential risk factors, please consult the list below:

  • Skin injuries such as cuts, abrasions, and kinds of wounds including burns.
  • Having a skin condition that produces lesions, peeling or open sores. Examples include eczema and psoriasis.
  • Bites from animals or insects.
  • Existing fungal infection of skin such as athlete’s foot.
  • Existing edema or swelling.
  • Any condition that inhibits healing of wounds can increase the risk of contracting bacterial infections. An example is diabetes.
  • Impaired blood circulation or lymphatic drainage.
  • Varicose veins.
  • Infection caused by surgery.
  • Existing infection as in the case of upper respiratory infections, ear infection or even bone infections.
  • In other words, bacteria are present in the bloodstream.
  • Having a weak immunity as a result of disease, medications or HIV infection, for instance.

 

I Have A Skin Rash? Is It Cellulitis?

The main symptom of cellulitis is a skin rash that can quickly spread across your skin. It can affect any part of your body and even your face. Here are some identifying features of a typical cellulitis skin rash:

  • A red skin rash.
  • The affected area is tender to the touch.
  • It is also warm.
  • There may be some pain as well.
  • The margins of the rash are not clearly defined.
  • A certain form of cellulitis known as erysipelas produces a shiny, reddish rash with well-defined borders.
  • The rash can have a pitted appearance. This is often compared to the outer skin of an orange.
  • The rash is generally accompanied by swelling.
  • The rash tends to spread quickly unless treated.
  • Fluid-filled blisters form on the affected patch of skin.

Some patients, particularly those with erysipelas, may even complain of the following symptoms:

  • Fever.
  • Chills.
  • Headaches.
  • Drop in blood pressure.
  • Elevated heart rate.

 

What Are The Different Types Of Cellulitis?

Cellulitis can be of many different types depending on which area of the skin has been infected. This infection can arise in any part of the body. When the face is affected, it is known as facial cellulitis. Periorbital cellulitis refers to a skin rash around the eye. Sometimes, the skin of the breasts is affected and this is known, simply, as breast cellulitis.

 

What Do I Need To Know About Complications?

Cellulitis StreptococcusThe bacteria responsible for cellulitis may not remain confined to the skin. They may spread deeper into the body and cause a variety of other infections which can have far more severe consequences. Potential complications of cellulitis include:

  • Swelling of lymph nodes or lymphatic channels. The patient may have tender lumps in areas like the neck, armpit, and groin. They may have red streaks running beneath the skin in the direction of a set of lymph nodes.
  • The skin infection can worsen to the point of creating an abscess. An abscess is a pocket of pus and dead bacteria.
  • The bacteria spread from the skin tissues into the blood. When this occurs, it can give rise to life-threatening immune response leading to sepsis.
  • Necrotising skin infections. This is a rare but very severe form of skin infection which can cause intense pain and permanent damage not only to the skin but also muscle. Unless treated in time, this can leave the patient with gangrene. It must be addressed by means of antibiotics and surgical debridement.

 

How Is Cellulitis Diagnosed And Treated?

Your doctor will not normally ask you to undergo laboratory tests in order to diagnose cellulitis. He or she will usually be able to identify the condition from the presentation of symptoms alone. The preferred mode of treatment is by means of antibiotics. Most patients respond well to this unless the pathogen is MRSA. In such cases, more intensive antibiotic therapy would be recommended.

Samples of blood, pus or skin may be taken for examination in order to determine the pathogen involved. This is not always necessary and may only be performed if the patient has additional complications or fails to respond satisfactorily to antibiotics. The treatment focuses on removing the infection which is usually done by means of oral antibiotics. The action of the antibiotics can be analyzed after finishing a course of 3 days. The antibiotic course can last from 5 days to 14 days.

In some cases of cellulitis (such as no response to oral antibiotics, extensive signs, symptoms, and high fever etc.), hospitalization might be required. In these cases, antibiotics are administered intravenously (through the veins).In general, medications are prescribed that is effective in treating infection from both the bacteria- streptococci and staphylococci. Completion of the antibiotic course is crucial for getting rid of the infection. In some cases, elevation of the affected area is recommended by the doctor in order to speed up the recovery.

 

Prevention

Prevention of recurrent cellulitis can be done by keeping the skin clean and well hydrated by the use of an appropriate moisturizer, wearing appropriate clothing and footwear in order to prevent cuts and scrapes, and the use of gloves where necessary. Treatment of certain underlying conditions such as diabetes, athlete’s foot, puncture injuries, insect and animal bites etc. can also help in preventing cellulitis.

 

Facts

  • Conditions such as diabetes and HIV/AIDS can increase the risk of cellulitis.
  • Excessive use of the hot tub might also cause cellulitis.
  • Skin infection by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria is difficult to treat as it does not respond well to antibiotics

Facts

  • The skin is the first line of defense for the body. It acts as a physical barrier to protect the entry of microbes and foreign bodies.
  • Skin is the largest organ in the body. The area occupied by our skin is approximately 1.73m2.
  • Skin plays a vital role in the regulation of the body temperature.

Facts

  • Melanin is the pigment responsible for the color of the skin.
  • The skin regenerates itself and a new layer of skin is formed every 28 days.
  • The skin can sense pressure owing to the four kinds of pressure receptors present in it.

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When certain types of bacteria such as staphylococcus make their way into the body through a cut or wound, it can lead to a bacterial infection called cellulitis. This is seen as redness and inflammation of the cut or wound.
Cellulitis generally starts as a small patch that spreads over a period of time within hours. The infection spreads to surrounding tissues causing inflammation and redness. The patient generally becomes ill with the passage of time such as getting fever, chills, and malaise. The affected area becomes warm to touch with erythema and edema associated with it.
Some basic precautions can aid in fast recovery of cellulitis. Always try to keep the cellulitis covered to avoid irritation. Keep the area clean and dry by avoiding exposure to water. Keep the affected area elevated and apply cool compress to the area. Make sure to take antibiotics regularly as prescribed and minimise the use of pain medications.
Certain red flags can easily be identified when it comes to cellulitis. These include experiencing increase in temperature with associated chills and malaise, redness and inflammation spreading at a rapid pace, increase in warmth, extreme tenderness with any contact, and most importantly drainage from the wound.

 

Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Take over-the-counter pain medications (only after consulting your doctor) for pain relief.
  • Keep the affected area elevated. This will augment the process of healing.
  • You can comfort yourself by placing a cool and damp cloth on the affected area.
  • Check with your doctor if the use of compression wraps or stockings can help you.
Don'ts
  • Forget to inform your doctor about allergies to medications and antibiotics (if any).
  • Stop the course of antibiotics in between. A complete course of medication should be taken as directed by the doctor even if the symptoms reduce.

 

 

 

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colposcopy
Colposcopy Colposcopy is a simple, quick and non- invasive diagnostic tool to look closely inside the vulva, vagina, and…
Hysteroscopy_procedure
Hysteroscopy Hysteroscopy is a minimally invasive tool to help specialists view the uterus to diagnose and even treat several…
Diabetes blood test
Diabetic Profile The diabetic profile is a set of tests used for testing and monitoring the various kinds of Diabetes…
macadamia nuts in food
Proven health benefits and nutrition of macadamia nuts Know all about scientific, amazing health benefits of macadamia nuts, its nutrition, recipes, how to consume, price and…
macadamia nuts in food
Proven health benefits and nutrition of macadamia nuts Know all about scientific, amazing health benefits of macadamia nuts, its nutrition, recipes, how to consume, price and…
sleep deprivation
Don’t let your sleep deficit grow into memory loss or heart attack Why is sleep important for us? How could sleep deprivation harm you? We bet you didn't know about…
kefir bottle
Kefir: Top reasons why this probiotic drink should be consumed by you Yet another remarkable fermented food, kefir is a much healthier version of yogurt. These chewy white grains can…
Salt dangers
Sodium chloride: The wonders and dangers of the simple table salt Sodium chloride is a salt containing sodium and chlorine ions at a 1:1 ratio. It is edible and…
Did you know drinking alkaline water could be the healthier choice for you? Ever wondered how safe is your drinking water in terms of pH? Recent studies have revealed that Alkaline…
How to correctly perform nasal irrigation using a Neti Pot? Neti pot has been a part of Ayurveda since centuries. This ancient tool is extremely effective in treating…
Oxidative Stress: Understanding the most lethal phenomenon happening in your body right now Free radicals cause damage to the body, which is known as oxidation.  The amount of oxidation caused by…
Hydroquinone: Is it the best topical treatment for hyperpigmentation? Darkening of the skin due to high melanin levels is called hyperpigmentation.  Hydroquinone interferes with melanin production thus treating…
11 unbelievable health benefits of thyme you didn’t know! Thyme is a herb that has been used in alternative medicine.It is a well known seasoning in the…
reflexology massage
Top reasons why you should go for a reflexology massage today Reflexology involves the application of pressure to your feet and hands to encourage self-healing. Could this be beneficial…
Balneotherapy jacuzzi
5 things you didn’t know about balneotherapy and how you can do it at home Sauna baths have been popular since a long time. But how much more beneficial can balneotherapy be as…
Barium-enema
Barium Enema Barium enema is also known as colon x-ray. Here, the patient is asked to consume small amount of…
Tissue Transglutaminase Antibody (tTG) Test Transglutaminase is an enzyme present in our body and is involved in protein metabolism. A tTg test is…
anoscopy
Anoscopy Anoscopy is an invasive diagnostic procedure where a small device known as anoscope will be inserted in the…
immunoglobulin M
Immunoglobulin M Test Immunoglobulin M is the largest and the first produced antibody which helps in the prevention or fighting of…
ureteroscopy
Ureteroscopy Ureteroscopy is the diagnostic procedure which is used for the detection of the kidney stones in addition to…
hidden causes obesity
8 hidden causes of obesity you probably didn’t know! Did you know that around 2 billion people worldwide are either overweight or obese? Are you too a…
eating disorder anorexia
Eating Disorders: Lifestyle choice or a psychological condition? Is eating disorder just a harmless bad habit? Or does it represent grim psychological disorders? Do you want…
Beware of these common foods that cause high bodily inflammation! Maybe its the long list of inflammatory foods in your diet that is making you frequently sick. Find…
Find all the instant ways to get rid of blackheads Blackheads - Not only are they aesthetically unappealing but if left untreated these can cause bacterial overgrowth on…
Oxalates: How healthy greens can sometimes be bad news for your kidneys Oxalates are compounds present in a majority of healthy foods. However, at times an overconsumption of these could…
SIBO Diet: The important dos and don’ts of this gut-healing diet A SIBO diet is a diet that works by eliminating certain sugars from your diet and adding fibers…
Coffee Enema: Turn your favorite morning beverage into a powerful colon cleanser The wonders of coffee are not just limited to waking you up every morning. You can now use…
GGt test
GGT – Gamma-Glutamyl Transferase Test GGT or gammaglutamyl transferase test is a liver function test that is used to detect the extent of…
quinoa salad
Quinoa : A prodigious superfood you need to include in your diet today! Quinoa - what is so special about this native South American grain that has taken the world by…
L-theanine attention
L-Theanine: Better sleep, higher focus, and many other benefits Did you know that L-theanine found in green tea can make you sleep better and be focused at…
improve digestion weight loss
Power up your gut: 8 proven steps on how to improve your digestion Did you know you have a colony of bacteria in your gut that help you in digesting food?…
avocado benefits
Avocado: 15 reasons why this fruit should be a staple in your diet Did you know that the word avocado literally means "testicles". Don't get grossed out as this power-packed fruit…
bananas exercise
10 health reasons why you should go “bananas” over bananas! Bananas:The world's most popular fruit comes with a host of unbelievable health benefits. Find out how you can…
ashwagandha brain
Ashwagandha: The best-kept secret of Ayurveda now revealed! Ashwagandha literally means "smell of horse". Don't get bogged down by that one tiny detail because this ayurveduic…
Coconut sugar: What is it and is it healthier than table sugar? In the long list of things that the wonderful coconut gives us, coconut sugar is another remarkable addition.…
The right way to prepare Alfalfa sprouts at home Alfalfa or lusan ghas is not just a nutritious animal fodder. This flavonoid-rich herb has some amazing health…
Pescatarian Diet 101: What are the inherent health advantages of this diet? People opt to become a pescatarian in order to enrich their bodies with the essential health benefits that…
How to scrub away stress and fatigue with an Epsom salt bath? Epsom salt is a popular home remedy for many skin ailments. Though there is a lack of scientific…
thyroid_scan
Thyroid Scan Thyroid scan is a diagnostic procedure that aims to view the thyroid gland and detect any growths or…
vdrl test syphilis
VDRL Test The VDRL test is a blood test that is used to diagnose sexually transmitted or venereal diseases, primarily…
lp-pla2
LP-PLA2 Test The LP-PLA2 test is a test which is carried out to assess the levels of Lipoprotein-Associated Phospholipase A2…
complement c4 test
Anemia Profile Anemia Profile test (Basic) is a blood screening test that measures the levels of important components of the…
shoudler exercises
Keep your shoulders pain-free with these shoulder exercises Shoulder exercises are important in order to prevent chronic back and neck pain. Learn more about how you…
sugar toxic health
Sugar: 7 new shocking truths revealed about the sweet poison Can drinking soda bring you closer to death? Is sugar slowly poisoning you and your family? You would…