Cellulitis is a skin infection caused by group A streptococcus or staphylococcus aureus bacteria, usually entering the body through a cut, sore, wound or insect bite. Cases of cellulitis that do not start with a break in the skin are sometimes seen in older adults, particularly those with diabetes or weakened immune systems.
Because untreated cellulitis can spread to the lymph nodes or blood if not treated by antibiotics, the infection has a fatal potential. Symptoms include redness of the affected area, swelling, pain and warmth. Fever, chills and swollen glands may appear as the infection worsens and spreads from the point of entry.
Often causing crippling discomfort, foot cellulitis is a common condition characterized by warmth, swelling, tenderness and redness in the affected area. Points of bacterial entry include cuts, scratches, ulcers, heel fissures, burns, surgical incisions or areas of skin damage caused by such conditions like athlete’s foot or eczema.
People with early cases of foot cellulitis may notice red spots or small boils that can burst and spread infection further. Red streaking leading away from the infected area is a common symptom and a sure sign that you need to head to the doctor as soon as possible. Ankles and shins may also become sore and reddened as infection spreads.
Foot cellulitis can appear as a secondary infection to several other skin conditions, including eczema, rash, insect bite or athlete’s foot. Because athlete’s foot in particular causes flaking, cracking and other breaks on the skin, it’s particularly important to treat it immediately with antifungals to prevent development of foot cellulitis.
Symptoms of foot cellulitis may also mimic those of a more serious condition called thrombophlebitis, which is caused by a blood clot in a vein and may require treatment with anticoagulants.
Prevention and Treatment
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Foot cellulitis is normally treated by a variety of antibiotics given either orally or intravenously, and should be dealt with immediately and aggressively. However, often foot cellulitis can be avoided altogether by taking a few basic preventive steps. Wash any wound thoroughly with soap and water, apply topical antibiotic cream and cover with a bandage, replacing frequently.
If you notice any pain, redness or streaking, see your doctor immediately.