Many people underestimate the risk of developing bacteria-related conditions. While the majority of them can easily be treated, some of them can be fatal, especially when left unchecked. Cellulitis is one of those conditions. This common condition is the byproduct of bacteria getting deep into the cracked layers of skin. Once it spreads to the lymph nodes, the infection can get into the bloodstream and wreak havoc on the entire body.
In many cases, cellulitis only affects the outer layer of skin. Over time, the infection penetrates the deeper layers of skin and can even reach the muscle and bone. Vulnerable populations with underlying health conditions are at higher risk of developing this bacterial infection. Oftentimes, people mistake cellulitis for other minor skin conditions because of its seemingly mild appearance. However, it’s important to recognize the symptoms to get a proper diagnosis and seek treatment immediately.
Common Causes of Cellulitis
Although normal skin can develop cellulitis, it has an easier time cultivating and spreading on previously wounded skin. The bacteria most responsible for these infections are streptococcus and staphylococcus. The severe cellulitis infections are the result of methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus. This form of infection is on the rise.
Patients suffering from this bacterial infection can experience symptoms anywhere on their body, including the arms, belly, legs, and back. This condition is likely to occur:
- On skin with puncture wounds
- After a recent surgery
- Minor cuts
- On ulcers
- With athlete’s foot
- After an animal bite
- On dry, flaky skin
Of course, some people are more likely to contract cellulitis due to underlying health conditions. These include:
- Poor-circulatory conditions
- Varicose veins
- Chronic liver disease
- Uncleaned cuts
Previous experience with this infection increases the chances of redevelopment. Overweight and obese people also have a higher chance of getting cellulitis.
Signs and Symptoms
Since this condition needs medical treatment, sufferers must be able to identify cellulitis symptoms quickly. The signs vary in severity based on how long the infection occurs. Usually, the symptoms will occur on one side of the body. People concerned they may have cellulitis should keep an eye out for the following symptoms:
- A growing red area of skin
- Excessive swelling
- A warm sensation
- Varying levels of pain
- Lingering fever and headache
- Leaking pus-like fluid
Some symptoms require an immediate trip to the emergency room. Seek medical help if:
- The fever won’t break
- The rash is growing and feels warm and swollen, even without a fever
- Worsened symptoms of another health condition
It’s best to seek treatment as soon as possible. To start, doctors will inspect the skin for symptoms. They may also authorize blood testing to eliminate other possibilities. Once diagnosed, doctors usually prescribe an oral antibiotic. The infection should respond to the treatment within three days. This prescription may be taken for up to two weeks. If oral antibiotics are ineffective, sufferers may need intravenous antibiotics, especially if the fever doesn’t break and the symptoms are severe.
In mild cases, there are effective home remedies worth trying to ease symptoms. However, they’re not an alternative to treatment. For pain relief, try:
- Elevating the infection to reduce inflammation
- Applying a cool compress
- Regularly practice good hygiene
- Applying moisturizer after cleaning
- Washing hands often
- Using gloves to avoid cuts
Vulnerable people with conditions like diabetes should speak to their healthcare provider about how to check for signs and further preventative measures. Cellulitis can start off as a minor infection. Once it spreads to the bloodstream, it becomes life-threatening and harder to cure. In addition to poor hygiene habits, underlying health conditions and procedures like surgery make it more likely to contract this infection.
Regardless of the causes, it’s always important to look out for potential symptoms, especially in patients who have previous experience with cellulitis. The sooner a sufferer gets a diagnosis, the easier it will be to get the symptoms under control.
Cellulitis requires medical treatment. Fortunately, there are home remedies sufferers can pair with cellulitis treatment to increase comfort. Avoid strenuous activities and maintain proper cleaning techniques to prevent further spread of the infection.