Cellulitis is a very common form of bacterial infection which can cause redness, swelling, and a warm sensation under the skin. It appears on the lower legs, although it can also appear on other areas of the body and face as well.
If left untreated, Cellulitis can quickly turn from an infection to an abscess, or even a much more serious illness called Necrotizing-Fasciitis, or Flesh Eating Disease.
In 2013, roughly 37 million cases of Cellulitis were reported worldwide, with an estimated 30,000 deaths resulting from complications related to this infection.
Causes of Cellulitis
Cellulitis usually occurs when streptococcus or staphylococcus bacteria enter the body through an abrasion or cut. Those at particular risk are the elderly and those with pre-existing immune-deficiency conditions such as diabetes.
Owing to the decreased blood flow inherent with diabetes and other immune deficiencies, the bacteria, upon entering the body, are able to reproduce much quicker, making the condition much more aggressive.
However, it’s not just diabetes and immune-deficiencies which can lead to Cellulitis. There are many pre-existing conditions which can lead to cellulitis. Some common conditions are spider bites, eczema, Athlete’s Foot and open wounds from tattoos.
Others are more specific to children and the elderly.
Chicken Pox, for example, can leave a child’s skin open to infection. Similarly, bed sores and other abrasions common to the elderly can also lead to infection. Proper cleaning and sterilization of affected areas is always encouraged.
Densely-populated living spaces such as dormitories, hostels, retirement homes and shelters are common breeding grounds for Cellulitis. As with Athlete’s Foot and other highly contagious conditions, it can easily be transmitted through shared contact with hygienic facilities. Preventative measures like shower shoes and proper toweling-off are always recommended.
As this is an infection, it can spread quite easily through the bloodstream and into the lymphatic systems. It is extremely important that Cellulitis be treated early to avoid much more serious infections. Symptoms of infection include fever, chills, nausea and fatigue. Increased redness and swelling around the infected area are also common.
A diagnosis of Cellulitis can easily be made by a qualified health professional, like Dr. Vikki and the team at Superior Foot & Ankle Care Center. Obtaining a proper and timely diagnosis is crucial. The longer it is left untreated, the more likely it will develop into something much harder to treat.
Treatment for Cellulitis
Antibiotics are the most common approach to Cellulitis. Similar to other streptococci-caused illnesses like Strep Throat, It tends to clear up within the first week of antibiotic usage. However, for those on antibiotics who do not see improvement, additional measures may be required.
In some cases, Cellulitis will lead to an abscess. Abscesses are large, swollen areas with dark centers, which generally require surgery to drain. Any at-home attempts at drainage can lead to further complications.
Pain relief medication is often prescribed along with antibiotics. However, if the pain is extreme, medical help should be sought out as soon as possible as this may be a sign of developing Necrotizing-Fasciitis—a very aggressive infection which can lead to permanent disfigurement or death.
The preventative measures favored by Dr. Vikki and the team at Superior Foot & Ankle Care Center can help to prevent Cellulitis, and to cure any offshoot conditions.
As an active participant in the well-being of Special Olympians since 2003, Dr. Vikki understands the value of a proper diet and exercise in the prevention and treatment of Cellulitis. Excess blood sugars, like the kind that result from an improper diet can lead to increased bacterial spreading, which can exacerbate any stages of the condition.
Consult Superior Foot & Ankle Care Center
Along with a sound assessment, the staff at Superior Foot and Ankle Care can provide the educational tools necessary to prevent and treat Cellulitis.
Whether you have questions about an existing condition, or you’d simply like to learn more about how you can prevent this infection and other related health issues, schedule a consultation today with the professional team at Superior Foot and Ankle Care Center and start living healthier.