Cellulitis is a prevalent bacterial skin infection. Although statistics indicate that it is relatively common, one can never be sure because it goes without being reported. Even though cellulitis can occur at any age, individuals who are 45 years or older are under increased risk. The elderly are especially susceptible to developing cellulitis.
Streptococcus and staphylococcus are the pathogens that are mostly associated with cellulitis. The condition occurs when these microorganisms, that normally reside on the skin, penetrate the protective barrier. The bacteria can enter the skin through abrasions, blisters, burns or insect bites. It can also appear in conjunction with skin disorders, such as eczema and athlete’s foot.
Drugs that suppress your immune system increase your risk of cellulitis. They ask for medications that prevent organ rejection, treat autoimmune disorders and inflammatory conditions, such as asthma and psoriasis.
Pregnancy, obesity and other conditions that reduce your circulation also make you susceptible to cellulitis.
Cellulitis causes severe inflammation in the subcutaneous tissue. This is the layer just beneath the skin’s outermost layer. It also inflames the lower dermis layers. In addition to your skin, the infection can affect other connective tissues.
The symptoms of the disorder include swelling, warmth, redness and tenderness or pain in the infected area. Other symptoms are fever, chills, sweating and fatigue. Patients can also experience pain and joint stiffness. The most commonly infected areas include the lower portion of the legs, arms, neck and head.
The infection can migrate to the lymph nodes and cause them to swell. If the infection reaches the bloodstream, it can cause life-threatening complications.
A doctor will perform a physical examination and document the patient’s medical history. During the examination, the doctor will check the patient for symptoms commonly associated with cellulitis. The physician may request a full blood report on bacterial infection. An elevated white blood cell count will raise red flags and help diagnose the infection.
The primary treatment for cellulitis are antibiotics. These medications may be derivatives of penicillin, or other types of antibiotics that are effective against streptococcal and staphylococcal infections. If the infection is resistant to oral antibiotics or the patient is allergic, intravenous medication may be required. The location and extent of the infection, along with your medical history, will determine the appropriate treatment for your condition.
Practicing good hygiene, wearing protective clothing, treating wounds and taking precautions to avoid chronic swelling can prevent many cases of cellulitis. If you are predisposed to developing the condition or have a weakened immune system, you may not be able to prevent the disease. For people with healthy immune systems, safeguarding the skin is the best way to prevent cellulitis.