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Cellulitis and Abscess: What You Need to Know About Prevention and Treatment

Cellulitis and Abscess: What You Need to Know About Prevention and Treatment

Cellulitis and abscesses are skin and soft tissue bacterial infections that can occur independently of one another. Each can compromise your health and often require specialty care. But when you develop both at the same time, the need for medical attention becomes urgent.

Dr. Manjulatha Badam of Vayu Advanced Wound Clinic & Hyperbarics in San Antonio, Texas, is an award-winning physician who specializes in diagnosing and treating nonhealing wounds of all types, including those related to cellulitis and other bacterial skin infections.

As part of her patient-first holistic approach to health care, Dr. Badam provides information to her patients that helps them make knowledgeable decisions about health care. Read her blog about cellulitis, abscesses, and the treatments available for these potentially life-threatening infections.

Understanding cellulitis and skin abscesses

Most often related to infections caused by streptococcus or staphylococcus bacteria, cellulitis and abscesses differ in appearance and symptomatology:

Cellulitis

Usually involving the lower legs but possible elsewhere on your body, cellulitis occurs when a break in the skin allows bacteria to enter.

Symptoms typically include:

Blister and abscess formation in the affected area can signal worsening infection. Without treatment, cellulitis can spread to your bloodstream and lymph nodes, quickly becoming a life-threatening systemic (whole body) infection.

Abscess 

An abscess is a pocket of fluid or pus that can occur anywhere in your body. A skin abscess, sometimes called a boil, is an infection that occurs just under the skin’s surface.  

Sometimes occurring as a worrisome complication of cellulitis, symptoms of skin abscess include:

Most abscesses resolve without extensive care but complications of an untreated skin abscess, whether related to cellulitis or not, can include:

Even if you are already being treated for cellulitis, you should seek medical care immediately if you notice expanding redness, blistering, or abscess formation in the infected region.

Treating cellulitis and abscess

At Vayu Advanced Wound Care & Hyperbarics, we design personalized treatment plans that are tailored to meet your needs.

Cellulitis requires antibiotic treatment that may include oral medication, intravenous (IV) antibiotic therapy, or a combination of both. Depending on the level of infection, you may require hospitalization to monitor your response to treatment.

Skin abscesses require incision and drainage as well as follow-up wound care to ensure appropriate healing. Don’t attempt to drain the lesion yourself, since this can lead to worsening infection and new abscess formation.

Certain conditions increase your risk of developing cellulitis, including:

We may recommend further testing to rule out these issues as a cause of your cellulitis, especially if you have frequent episodes.

Preventing cellulitis and abscess

It’s not possible to prevent every incidence of cellulitis or skin abscess, but you can significantly decrease your risk by:

For more tips on how to prevent skin infections, and/or an evaluation regarding cellulitis or any of the conditions we treat, schedule a visit at Vayu Advanced Wound Clinic & Hyperbarics in San Antonio, Texas today.

Author
Dr. Manjulatha Badam

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