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Home > Blog > Cellulitis – All The Facts – Part 1

Cellulitis – All The Facts – Part 1

Monica Chahar | January, 25 2016 | 0 Comments

Modern science has advanced so much, that there are innumerable conditions that can afflict the human body, but can also be cured. Doctors today are able to decipher medical conditions that affect the superficial part of the skin and even those, which lie deep within the skin. One such condition that will be discussed in this article is known as cellulitis.

What is cellulitis?

Cellulitis is an infection that affects the skin and goes deep into the tissues that lie within the skin. The infection is often caused by the Group A streptococcus bacteria, which can find an entry into your body, through a burn, bruise, cut or wound. In most cases, the infection starts to show on the lower part of the body, mainly the legs. The infection can affect only the skin, or it can affect deeper tissues and then spread to the lymph nodes and start circulating through the bloodstream. While the condition is not contagious, it can spread quite rapidly, through the body. If the condition is not treated in time, it can become life threatening.


What are the symptoms of cellulitis?

There are a range of symptoms, which could point to cellulitis and some of the most common ones include:

  • Fever with chills
  • Glands or lymph nodes that are swollen
  • Rashes or red spots
  • Skin that turn red and tender and the area is gradually expanding
  • Blisters and scabs
  • Swelling and tenderness
  • Pain
  • Dimpling of the skin

When to see the doctor and what to do?

If you notice any of these symptoms, it is crucial that you meet a doctor immediately, because cellulitis needs to be diagnosed in time, as then there is the possibility to cure the same. If the infection starts to spread, treating it can become much tougher and in some cases, it has led to death too.
In case you have a high fever and a rash that is red in colour, swollen and painful, then you should immediately head to the doctor. Even if there is no fever, but the rest of the symptoms are present, it would be wise to consult the doctor.
In most cases, cellulitis occurs when a certain strain of bacteria, mainly streptococcus or staphylococcus which enters the body, through a break in your skin. This break could be because of a bruise, a burn or a wound. It could also enter through wounds from recent surgeries, ulcer, dermatitis or even athlete’s foot. Certain types of insect bites can also provide the opening as can dry or flaky skin.
These days, a more severe strain of the staphylococcus, known as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA is on the rise.

What conditions can make your more susceptible to cellulitis?

There are certain conditions, which can affect your body, and more importantly, it can make you more susceptible to cellulitis as well. These conditions include:

  • History of cellulitis – People who have had cellulitis in the past, are more prone to developing it again in the future.
  • Certain skin conditions – There are certain skin conditions such as shingles, eczema, athlete’s foot and even chicken pox, which could cause a break in the skin, and hence provide a point of entry for the bacteria.
  • Obesity – Being overweight can bring a range of problems, and cellulitis is one of them as studies have shown that obese people are more prone to the condition.
  • Intravenous drugs – People who use drugs or are put on medication, which has to be administered intravenously, are more susceptible to developing cellulitis.
  • Weak immune system – There are certain conditions which can weaken the immune system of the body, such as HIV, cancer and diabetes, and these can lead to the development of cellulitis.
  • Chronic swelling of the arms and legs – A condition known as lymphedema, leads to the legs and arms being swollen and swollen tissue can crack more easily.

What can make cellulitis truly dangerous?

The bacteria which is known to cause cellulitis, namely, streptococcus or staphylococcus can spread very quickly through the body, and should the same enter the lymph nodes and bloodstream, it can become fatal quickly. If the cellulitis keeps recurring, there could be damage in the drainage system of the lymph nodes and this could lead to constant swelling of the limb or area which has been affected.
In rare cases, the infection can spread to the deeper layers of the tissue and in the most severe cases, necrotizing fasciitis or flesh-eating streptococci can set in.

What need to be your immediate steps?

The moment you feel that something is wrong, you need to take a few steps:

  • List out all your symptoms, including ones that might seem unrelated to the condition, but are out of the ordinary
  • Make sure you write about all the recent surgeries and accidents that you might have had. Mention animal or insect bites as well.
  • Create a list of all the medications, vitamins and supplements that you are on and the exact dosage of the same too.

Before you meet the doctor, have a set of questions ready for them as well:

  • How could the infection have been contracted
  • What tests will be required
  • How will the infection be treated and how long will it take
  • Will the medications have any side effects
  • Will the treatment hamper any other medical conditions that might already be present
  • What can be done to prevent further recurrence of the infection

What can you expect from your doctor?

When you first meet your doctor, there are few things they will want to know from you and these will include:

  • When the symptoms first started showing
  • If you have had any injuries or wounds
  • If the pain is severe
  • You will be asked about your allergies or intolerance to any medicines
  • If this is a case of recurrence

Your doctor might have to do a few tests in order to identify the exact bacteria or might also require a culture from your skin.

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