What is Cellulitis?
Cellulitis is a common bacterial skin infection that can often be painful. The affected area might appear to be red and swollen and might feel hot and tender to touch. If not treated immediately, the swelling and redness can spread quickly across the body.
The lower legs are the areas that are most often affected by Cellulitis amongst other areas in the body. While they usually occur on the surface of the skin, they can also sometimes affect the tissues that lie underneath the skin. In this case, the infection also has the possibility to spread to your bloodstream and lymph nodes, making it a dangerous condition. It could become a life threatening disease, if you don’t get it treated in the initial stages itself.
It is advisable to consult a doctor as soon as you recognize symptoms in your skin.
Cellulitis occurs when a particular type of bacteria enters the skin through a cut or wound. Bacterias such as Staphylococcus and Streptococcus could be causes for this infection. While cuts and cracks are the major underlying cause of this infection, it could otherwise, also be caused through bug bites and surgical wounds.
The symptoms of Cellulitis may appear differently depending on the type of cellulitis. Here is a detailed break down of the symptoms experienced during each stage.
Start of the cellulitis:
- Tenderness and mild pain in the affected area
- Skin can appear red and swollen
- A skin rash that can appear to be spreading quickly
- A warm feeling in the infected area
- An abscess with puss
If the cellulitis is in a serious condition, you may experience:
- Shivering of the body
- Feeling of sickness or illness
- Feeling fatigue, lightheadedness or dizziness
- Muscle aches around the affected area
- Excessive sweating
Drowsiness, lethargy, blisters or red streaks could mean that cellulitis is spreading.
A doctor through physical examination of your skin can usually examine cellulitis easily. Any swelling, redness, warmth or signs of a swollen gland can refer to as a cellulitis.
The infected area is usually monitored for a few days to determine the severity or spread of the infection. In a few cases, a blood sample or a patch cellulitis test of the wound of the infected area might be taken to examine the bacteria.
Antibiotics are a major part of the medication for the cellulitis cure. Doctors also often prescribe painkillers for the same. Adequate rest is required until there is improvement in the reduction of your symptoms. The affected limb is asked to elevated at a higher level than the heart to reduce swelling in the area.
Cellulitis should go away within 7 to 10 days after you start taking antibiotics.
It takes about 7 to 10 days for the cellulitis to get treated with antibiotics. Longer treatment might be required depending on the severity of the chronic condition.
It is important that you follow up and contact your doctor if:
- Your infection doesn’t get better within 3 days
- Your symptoms seem to get worse
- You develop a fever
In case of high temperature, Low BP or weekend immune system, you may be treated with IV antibiotics.
Cellulitis risk factors
Factors that could lead to increase in your risk of cellulitis:
- A cut or wound on the skin
- A weak immune system
- Skin conditions such as eczema and athletes foot that may cause breaks in the skin
- Use of IV drugs
- A family history of cellulitis
- Swollen of your arms or legs
- Obesity or increase in weight
How to prevent cellulitis?
Since, cuts and breaks in the skin are the underlying cause for Cellulitis, it is important to clean and treat your wounds right away. You could even cover it with bandage and change it regularly until the top layer scab forms. Also, keep a close watch on your wounds, redness, drainage or pain as they could be a sign of the infection starting.
If you have any of the risks of cellulitis, these are some precautions that you could take:
- Moisturize your skin to prevent cracking
- Use protective equipment when you work or play sports that could cause cracking
- Inspect your skin regularly to be aware of signs of injury or cuts