The Analyst™

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  Cellulitis  
 
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Signs, symptoms and indicators | Contributing risk factors | Recommendations

 

Cellulitis is more serious than the redness you commonly see surrounding an infected skin lesion. Cellulitis is an acute, but noncontagious, inflammation of the connective tissue beneath the surface of the skin. It is more wide-spread than a localized infection as seen in an ulcer or abscess. It causes the skin tissues in the infected area to become red, hot, painful and swollen. It can result from staphylococcus, streptococcus, or other bacterial infection. Intact skin is an effective barrier that normally keeps bacteria from entering and growing within the body. When there is a break in the skin, bacteria can enter causing infection and inflammation. Cellulitis is most common on the lower legs although skin on other areas of the body may be involved. The risk factors for cellulitis include insect bites and stings, animal or human bite and injury or trauma resulting in a break in the skin. Conditions which increase the chance of infection included history of peripheral vascular disease, diabetes mellitus, or ischemic ulcers; recent invasive medical or dental procedures; and the use of immunosuppressive medications.

Occasionally, streptococci can invade deeper structures with very rapid progression. When the fascia, the tissue overlying the muscle, becomes infected and dies, the disease is called necrotizing fasciitis. This has been called an infection with "flesh-eating bacteria". The reason some people develop this life-threatening infection while others only develop cellulitis is not entirely clear. Part of the reason has to do with the strain of bacteria involved. Certain strains of strep can produce toxins that destroy tissue and cause severe illness.

Avoid damage to your skin by wearing appropriate protective clothing and equipment as necessary. Treat any breaks in the skin by careful washing and a topical antibiotic. Watch closely for evidence of infection like redness, pain or drainage.
 

 
 

Signs, symptoms & indicators of Cellulitis:
 
 
Symptoms - Metabolic  Having a slight/having a moderate/having a high fever
 
 

Risk factors for Cellulitis:
 
 
Symptoms - Skin - Conditions  History of/having recent cellulitis

Counter-indicators:
  Haivng no history of cellulitis
 
 

Recommendations for Cellulitis:
 
 
Drug  Antibiotics
 Cellulitis should be treated with antibiotics to prevent its spread and complications. An untreated infection may result in gangrene, generalized blood infection, meningitis (if the face is involved) or lymphangitis. Cellulitis treatment may require hospitalization because the infection may be difficult to treat.

An antibiotic that is active against the usual disease-causing bacteria should be used. Oral Keflex (cephalexin) or Dicloxacillin is usually effective for simple cellulitis. There are other antibiotics that would probably be equally effective. A more serious infection may require the use of IV antibiotics. The response to the antibiotic should occur over several days.

Physical Medicine

  Hot Applications
 Apply warm, moist compresses to the site to increase the blood supply to the tissues. Elevate the infected area, usually higher than the heart, to reduce swelling and rest until symptoms improve.
 
 


KEY
Weak or unproven link
Strong or generally accepted link
Very strongly or absolutely counter-indicative
Highly recommended