Cellulitis are not just found on your legs. Find everything about Cellulitis

By Skin & Hair Academy  |   November 03, 2015

Characterized by sudden reddening and swelling of skin in a particular area of the human body, cellulitis is a bacterial infection of the underlying layers of skin and the tissues beneath. The classic symptoms of Cellulitis include swelling, warmth, erythema and tenderness over the affected area. [1]

Although the condition most commonly affects the area around the legs, it can affect any part of the body. People of all ages, including children, can have cellulitis. Prevalence of cellulitis has been found to be almost similar in both sexes. [2]

Causes of Cellulitis [3]

The two most common bacteria that cause cellulitis are streptococcus and staphylococcus, which can enter the skin layers through any cuts or wounds.

Symptoms of Cellulitis [4]

Apart from the signs mentioned above, cellulitis can also produce other symptoms including:

  • Pain in the affected area
  • Redness and swelling along with infection
  • Fever
  • Skin rashes which spread rapidly within the first 24 hours
  • Stretched appearance of the skin making it look glossy
  • Fatigue, muscle pain and general illness

Other conditions that can lead to cellulitis:

  • Cracked heels and toes and peeled skin between toes
  • Open and exposed wounds caused by an accident or an injury
  • Bites or stings from animals, insects or even humans
  • Peripheral vascular disease or a history of it
  • Skin ulcers often caused by vascular disease or diabetes
  • Administration of steroids which control the immune system
  • Surgery wounds

Some patients also experience joint pain and nausea.

Treatment

The important factors in the diagnosis of Cellulitis are presence of typical symptoms, local characteristics of the affected area, laboratory tests and systemic signs such as fever, chills and leucocytosis. Your doctor can also recommend skin biopsy in some cases to confirm the diagnosis. [5]

Doctors usually prescribe antibiotics (oral fluoroquinolones) as a first-line treatment. If this does not work, intravenous antibiotics can also be prescribed. Clinical judgement is based on patient risk factors and severity of symptoms. [6]

Outlook

Usually, it takes around 7 to 10 days of antibiotic treatment to cure cellulitis. It may take longer in some severe cases. A chronic disease or a weak immune system can delay recovery.

Possible Complications [7]

Rarely, complications can occur when infection grows to other parts of the body. This cannot be treated without hospital admission and intravenous administration of drugs.

The possible complications of cellulitis may include:

  • Sepsis : Bacterial infection in blood
  • Endocarditis: Inflammation of the heart
  • Lymphangitis: Inflammation of the lymphatic system, which is a network of organs, glands, ducts and cells
  • Osteomyelitis: Infection of bones
  • Meningitis: Inflammation of meninges, protective membranes that cover the spinal cord and brain
  • Gangrene: Tissue death

Cellulitis is not a serious problem. In mild cases, it can be treated with antibiotics without hospitalization. However, considering the complications it may lead to, it is always better to report any kind of skin problems or any unexplained sign of skin disease to a skin expert. Early diagnosis can help you recover faster.

References:

[1] Cellulitis: diagnosis and management. - PubMed - NCBI . 2015. Cellulitis: diagnosis and management. - PubMed - NCBI . [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21410612. [Accessed 28 October 2015].

[2] Cellulitis - NHS Choices. 2015. Cellulitis - NHS Choices. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Cellulitis/Pages/Introduction.aspx. [Accessed 28 October 2015].

[3] Cellulitis - Causes - NHS Choices. 2015. Cellulitis - Causes - NHS Choices. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Cellulitis/Pages/Causes.aspx. [Accessed 28 October 2015].

[4] Cellulitis: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. 2015. Cellulitis: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000855.htm. [Accessed 28 October 2015].

[5] Cellulitis: diagnosis and management. - PubMed - NCBI . 2015. Cellulitis: diagnosis and management. - PubMed - NCBI . [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21410612. [Accessed 28 October 2015].

[6] Antibiotic selection for the treatment of infectious complications of implant-based breast reconstruction. - PubMed - NCBI . [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23486147. [Accessed 28 October 2015].

[7] Cellulitis 2015. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.floridahealthfinder.gov/healthencyclopedia/Health%20Illustrated%20Encyclopedia/1/000855.aspx. [Accessed 28 October 2015].


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