Cellulitis is a serious bacterial infection of the skin and underlying tissue. It occurs when bacteria enter the body through a break in the skin, such as a cut or scrape. The bacteria can then spread to the surrounding tissues, causing the tissue to become inflamed and filled with pus. Cellulitis can occur on any part of the body but is most commonly found on the legs, arms, and face.
Cellulitis can be a serious infection, and if not treated promptly, it can spread to the lymph nodes and bloodstream, causing potentially life-threatening complications. Early diagnosis and treatment of cellulitis are essential to prevent the spread of the infection.
What causes cellulitis?
Cellulitis is usually caused by an infection with bacteria, most often streptococcus or staphylococcus. These bacteria are normally found on the skin or in the nose. They can enter the skin through a cut, scrape, bug bite, or other wounds. Once they're in the skin, they multiply quickly and cause infection.
What are the risk factors for cellulitis?
There are many possible risk factors for cellulitis, but some of the more common ones include:
- Having a skin injury or break, such as a cut, scrape, or burn
- Having an underlying skin condition, such as eczema or athlete's foot
- Having diabetes
- Being obese
- Having poor circulation
- Having a weakened immune system
- Being over the age of 65
- Having recent surgery or trauma to the skin
- Having lymphedema (a build-up of lymph fluid in the tissues)
What are the signs and symptoms of cellulitis?
The signs and symptoms of cellulitis can vary depending on the location and severity of the infection. The symptoms of cellulitis usually come on suddenly and can get worse quickly. However, some of the more common signs and symptoms include:
- Red, swollen, tender skin
- Skin that feels tight or firm
- Pus-filled bumps on the skin
- Muscle aches
- Blisters or ulcers (in severe cases)
What are the treatments for cellulitis?
There are a number of treatments available for cellulitis, depending on the severity of the infection. For milder cases, antibiotics may be prescribed. For more severe infections, hospitalization may be necessary so that the patient can be monitored and given IV antibiotics. In some cases, surgery may be required to remove infected tissue. The goal of treatment is to clear the infection and prevent it from spreading.
People with cellulitis may need to take antibiotics for 7 to 10 days, or longer if the infection is severe. People who have a history of cellulitis or whose immune systems are compromised may need to take antibiotics for longer periods of time to prevent a recurrence.
Cellulitis can be a serious infection, and it is important to seek medical treatment as soon as possible if you think you may have it. Early diagnosis and treatment can help to prevent the infection from spreading and becoming more severe.
What are the complications of cellulitis?
Cellulitis can lead to serious complications, including:
- Blood poisoning (sepsis)
- Tissue death (gangrene)
- Kidney failure
- Joint damage
Can cellulitis be prevented?
There is no sure way to prevent cellulitis. However, you can lower your risk by taking good care of your skin and following these tips:
- Keeping your skin clean and well moisturized
- Avoiding cuts, scrapes, and other injuries to the skin
- Using an antibiotic ointment on any wounds
- Wearing proper footwear to avoid foot injuries
Cellulitis is a common infection of the skin and the soft tissues beneath the skin. It can occur anywhere on the body, but it is most commonly found on the legs, arms, or face. Cellulitis can be caused by a number of different types of bacteria, and it usually occurs after a break in the skin. Treatment for cellulitis typically includes antibiotics, and in some cases, hospitalization may be necessary. Cellulitis can lead to serious complications, so it is important to seek medical treatment as soon as possible if you think you may have it. You can lower your risk of developing cellulitis by taking good care of your skin and avoiding injuries to the skin.