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Cellulitis

 What is Cellulitis?

Cellulitis is a common bacterial skin infection. Cellulitis may first appear as a red, swollen area that feels hot and tender to the touch. The redness and swelling often spread rapidly. Cellulitis is usually painful. In most cases, the skin on the lower legs is affected, although the infection can occur anywhere on your body or face. Cellulitis usually affects the surface of your skin, but it may also affect the underlying tissues of your skin. Cellulitis can also spread to your lymph nodes and bloodstream.

If cellulitis is not treated, the infection might spread and become life-threatening.

Cellulitis Causes and Risk Factors

Cellulitis occurs when certain types of bacteria enter through a cut or crack in the skin. Cellulitis is commonly caused by staphylococcus and streptococcus bacteria. In 50 to 60 percent of cases, skin injuries such as cuts, insect bites, or surgical incisions are the cause of the infection.

You are at risk if you have:

  • Skin conditions that cause breaks in the skin, such as eczema and athlete’s foot
  • Trauma to the skin
  • Diabetes
  • Circulatory problems

Symptoms of Cellulitis

  • Cellulitis symptoms may include:
  • Pain and tenderness in the affected area
  • Redness or inflammation on your skin
  • Skin sore or rash that appears and grows quickly
  • Tight, glossy, swollen appearance of the skin
  • A feeling of warmth in the affected area
  • Fever

Symptoms such as drowsiness, lethargy, blistering, and red streaks could signal that cellulitis is spreading. If any of these symptoms occur, you should see your podiatrist immediately.

Treating Cellulitis

It is best to see your podiatrist if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, for them to diagnose you and give you the best treatment options. Antibiotics will usually be prescribed after diagnosis. While taking antibiotics, monitor your condition to see if symptoms improve. In most cases, symptoms will improve or disappear within a few days. In some cases, pain relievers are prescribed. You should rest until your symptoms improve. While you rest, you should raise the affected limb higher than your heart to reduce any swelling.

Cellulitis should go away within seven to 10 days of starting antibiotics. Longer treatment could be necessary if your infection is severe. This can occur if you suffer from a chronic disease or if your immune system is not working properly. People with certain pre-existing medical conditions and risk factors may need to stay in the hospital for observation during treatment.

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