What the heck is cellulitis?
Cellulitis is a frequent soft tissue and skin infection.
The lower limbs are affected in 70 to 80% of cases.
The skin serves as a protective barrier preventing normal skin flora and other microbial pathogens from reaching the subcutaneous tissue and lymphatic system. Bacteria can be introduced into the skin through an area of open skin, such as an insect bite. However, in many cases, there is not an obvious site where bacteria entered the skin. Once bacteria are in the skin, they cause redness and swelling that can spread rapidly. Cellulitis can happen almost anywhere on the body but the most common place it occurs is the lower legs.
Interesting Fact: Did you know over 14 million cases of cellulitis occurs in the United States annually.
A culprit that could cause a breakdown in the skin barrier:
- skin injuries,
- surgical incisions,
- intravenous site punctures,
- fissures between toes,
- insect bites,
- animal bites,
- skin infections,
- diabetes mellitus,
- venous insufficiency,
- peripheral arterial disease,
Symptoms of Cellulitis
Signs of cellulitis include redness of the skin (especially redness that spreads rapidly along the skin), warmth under the skin, and fever. The affected area can be painful. Certain bacteria can cause pus to collect beneath the skin (abscesses) or create blisters (bullae). Many different bacteria can cause cellulitis, but the most common are streptococci (especially beta-hemolytic streptococci) and Staphylococcus aureus.
Some patients are at increased risk of cellulitis, especially those with chronic swelling (lymphedema, Chronic Venous Insufficiency), those who are obese, and those with diabetes. Sometimes cellulitis can develop at the site of an animal bite or water exposure.
Diagnosis of Cellulitis
Cellulitis is diagnosed by physical examination. Laboratory testing and x-rays are not required. However, with more severe skin infections, studies like computed tomography scans and ultrasound might be done to look for deeper pockets of infection (abscesses).
Cellulitis is treated with antibiotics to kill the bacteria involved. Antibiotics can be given by mouth (pills, liquid) in many cases, but in more severe cases, patients may need to be hospitalized for intravenous antibiotics. When an abscess occurs, it should be drained whenever possible. If a patient has frequent episodes of cellulitis, sometimes an antibiotic can be given daily for several weeks or even months to help prevent further episodes.
- Keep skin moisturized to prevent cracks and breaks in the skin, especially the feet.
- Prevent formation of wounds.
- Patients with chronic swelling should elevate the affected areas or use compression garments as recommended by your doctor.
- Take antibiotics if prescribed by your doctor.
At Vayu Advanced Wound Clinic & Hyperbarics, Dr. Badam custom tailors’ treatment based on individual patient’s medical needs & underlying co-morbidities.
Call/Text @ 210-651-1112 with Question/Concerns.