Cellulitis is an infection of the skin caused by bacteria. It is a diffuse inflammation of connective tissue and inflammation of both, dermal and subcutaneous layers of the skin. The infection can be caused by normal skin flora or other exogenous bacteria and in majority of cases it affects already damaged skin (cracks in the skin, cuts, blisters, burns, insect bites, surgical wounds etc). Even though cellulitis may affect each and every part of the skin it is predominantly reported on the skin of the face and lower legs.
The infection starts in a form of tenderness, swelling and redness of a small area. The progress of infections leads to fever which may be accompanied by chills and profuse sweating. In some cases regional lymph nodes become enlarged.
The most common culprits of cellulitis are Streptococcus and Staphylococcus. Another infective agent that may cause cellulitis is MRSA. And finally, there are several more bacteria that may lead to cellulitis and they include Hemophilus influenza, Pneumococcus and Clostridium species.
Clinical Presentation of Cellulitis
The inflammation of the affected tissues features with redness, warmth, swelling and intensive pain. So if one has cuts, a wound or surgical incisions and feels any of the previously mentioned symptoms and signs it is highly likely that he/she are suffering from cellulitis.
The inflammation generally affects the lower legs. Another common site of cellulitis is the arms. Head and neck are less affected. If there are trauma or surgery wounds on the abdomen and chest area, these sites may be infected as well.
Risk Factors for Cellulitis
Cellulitis usually develops on the previously changed skin. Any kind of damage to the skin such as cuts, wounds, ulcers, blisters etc makes a person more susceptible to cellulitis. Predisposing factors also include chronic leg swelling, athlete's foot, eczema, previous radiation therapy and impetigo. On the other hand, cellulitis may also develop if the skin is intact.
People suffering from diabetes and immunocompromised patients are more susceptible to cellulitis.
Treatment for Cellulitis
Treatment for cellulitis must start as soon as possible. This way infection can be successfully brought under control and potential complication prevented. Patients suffering from cellulitis are treated with antibiotics. They are prescribed derivates of penicillin or other types of antibiotics which are effective against bacteria that have led to the infection. It is essential to administer an antibiotic to which a particular bacterium is not resistant and to pay attention whether the patients are allergic to a particular antibiotic. Even though antibiotics can be taken orally in many cases they are administered intravenously in a hospital setting. Intravenous administration of antibiotics provides better penetration of the drug and better effects.