Possible Cellulitis Complications
Cellulitis is an infection of the dermis and subcutaneous tissue mainly caused by bacteria. General symptoms are redness of the affected area, inflammation, swelling, pain, chills and fever. This type of infection is most commonly found on the extremities (legs and arms) in adults or on the face in children (periorbital type).
Cellulitis has the possibility of rapidly spreading. Because of that, it is fundamental to check symptoms with your GP or other medical professional in order to avoid serious complications, sometimes even with fatal consequences.
The possible complications that have been mentioned in several sources for cellulitis include:
1. Osteomyelitis (bone infection)
Osteomyelitis is a serious bone infection that commonly originates from another part of the body and is transported to the bone through the blood. Symptoms of this infection may appear as: bone pain; fever; uneasiness; general discomfort; malaise; redness; swelling and warmth. Other symptoms that may occur are chills; lower back pain; swelling of the ankles, feet and legs; excessive sweating.
2. Meningitis (brain and spinal cord infection)
In case cellulitis occurs in the facial area there is a possibility of developing serious infections known as meningitis. That is an inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, also known as the meninges. Meningitis is a potentially extremely serious infection that can divide to several types and they are: acute bacterial meningitis, bacterial meningitis, viral meningitis, chronic meningitis and aseptic meningitis.
The most common cause of this infection are viral infections that usually pass without any particular treatment. Still, bacterial meningitis infections are very serious, and may result with fatal consequences or brain damage, even if the patient is treated properly. Other known causes of meningitis are: chemical irritation, fungi, drug allergies and tumor.
In most cases symptoms come quickly, and may include: chills and fever; nausea and vomiting; mental status changes; photophobia; meningsmus and severe headache.
3. Lympadenitis (inflammation of the lymph vessels)
Infection of the lymph nodes (or lymph glands) is known as lymphadenitis. It may also describe as swelling of lymph nodes due to inflammation. Lymphadenitis is a common complication of certain bacterial infections with next known symptoms: swollen, tender or hard lymph nodes; red and tender skin over lymph node.
Also, lymph nodes may feel rubbery if an abscess is formed. This type of infection may spread within hours. In this condition visit to a doctor is strongly advised and treatment should start as soon as possible.
4. Sepsis (whole-body inflammatory state)
Sepsis is recognized as severe illness in which the bloodstream is overwhelmed by bacteria. This state is caused by a bacterial infection that can occur on any body region.. Most usual places where an infection might start include: The bowel (usually seen with peritonitis); The kidneys (upper urinary tract infection or pyelonephritis); The lining of the brain – meningitis; The liver or the gall bladder; The lungs – bacterial pneumonia; The skin – cellulitis medical condition.
In the state of sepsis, blood pressure drops, resulting in a shock. Major organs and body systems, including the kidneys, liver, lungs, and central nervous system, stop working properly. A change in mental status and hyperventilation may be the earliest sign of sepsis. In general, symptoms of sepsis may appear as: confusion or delirium; chills; decreased urine output ; fever or low body temperature – hypothermia; hyperventilation; light-headedness due to low blood pressure; rapid heartbeat ; shaking; warm skin and sometimes with skin rash.
5. Abscesses (collection of pus in the body)
An abscess is a collection of dead inflammatory cells and live neutrophils, in most cases caused by the presence of bacteria.
Also known as a skin boil, these abscesses can be raised above the skin’s surface, causing pain and swelling. This condition sometimes requires a professional medical attention. Doctor will drain and pack the area in order to prevent infection from the skin boil.
6. Thrombophlebitis (vein inflammation related to a thrombosis)
In case when the cellulitis medical condition causes bad circulation, most frequently in the leg area, a condition known as thrombophlebitis is not rare. This condition causes blood clots to form within a deep vein, and these clots can break off and become lodged in the lungs or heart. Individuals who experience cellulitis in the legs should either take blood thinners to prevent clots or wear stockings that encourage circulation.
7. Necrotizing Fasciitis ( an infection that leads to the destruction of the musculature underlying skin)
In case that cellulitis spreads to the deep layers of the skin, which are known as the fascial lining, a flesh-eating virus known as necrotizing fasciitis can occur. This very severe skin infection causes tissue death that can ultimately lead to shock.
Necrotizing fasciitis first appears as a reddish spot that quickly develops into a bronze or purple patch that can break open and drain fluid.
8. Shock (bodily collapse or near collapse)
Shock is a potentially a life-threatening condition that happens when the body is not getting enough blood flow. This can hurt multiple organs. Shock requires immediate professional medical attention and can get worse very rapidly.
9. Recurrence (return of cellulitis)
Return of the cellulitis infection is possible in the same body area where it occurred previously. People who are more exposed usually having problems with lower immune system due chronic condition, such as fungal infections, diabetes, lymphedema, advanced age or other conditions.
For prevention of recurrence it is crucial to frequently observe previous cellulitis sites for potential signs of reinfection and take care on other cellulitis prevention measures.
10. Gangrene ( tissue death)
Gangrene is the death of tissue in part of the organic structure – body. That occurs blood flow is restricted to the body, which results in the death and decay of otherwise healthy tissue – mostly from an infection, injury or other causes. The gangrene can spread and required surgery to remove dead tissue should antibiotics prescribed to heal cellulitis not have been effective. Gangrene may be prevented if it is treated before the tissue damage is irreversible.