If you are not aware of cellulitis, or you haven’t even heard about it, here are some fast facts that’ll catch you up on this potentially alarming skin infection.
Cellulitis is generally a bacterial skin disease that can grow quickly and expand rapidly. Its symptoms usually include skin redness, tenderness, pain, and warmth. However, severe infections may also cause nausea, fever, and blisters.
It can happen to both adults as well as children, and it is not an infection that you can normally treat by yourself. If you think you have cellulitis, immediately see your dermatologist.
Coming back to the facts, here are a few that will help you bring up to speed:
1 . Any Break or Cut in the Skin can Open the Door to a Cellulitis Infection
Although most scrapes, cuts, bug bites, or blisters don’t normally cause cellulitis, any break in your skin can, under specific circumstances. These circumstances usually include the existence of the infection-causing bacteria in your wound. Since you can’t spot bacteria with the naked eye, it is almost impossible to tell whether a minor cut can develop into a serious infection.
Other important factors you should know that can increase the risk of cellulitis include:
- A weak immune system
- Inappropriate wound cleaning
- Reduced blood flow and insufficient lymphatic drainage in the affected area
For reducing the risk of getting cellulitis, you should properly clean all the wounds with warm water and diluted antiseptic solution immediately, cover the scrapes or cuts with an adhesive band-aid or a gauze, and routinely check the wounds for any unusual signs. If you find that the wound is getting worse, you should see a dermatologist, especially if you are diabetic.
2. Cellulitis and Cellulite Aren’t the Same
Although these two are distinctive skin conditions, still most people get confused between cellulite and cellulitis.
Cellulite is generally a cosmetic condition, and it occurs when there’s fibrous tethering of the skin’s upper layer with the underlying muscles. When fat increases in that area, it is not evenly distributed because of the tight tethers, causing a dimpled or bumpy appearance.
Whereas, cellulitis is more of a bacterial skin infection, which usually appears as a red, tender, warm, and swollen area. Cellulite might not require medical attention, cellulitis infection does!
3. History of Getting Cellulitis Increases the Risk of Developing it Again
If you develop cellulitis one time, it increases the risk of getting it again. However, you can take certain measures to minimize that risk.
You should start by following your dermatologist’s instructions for curing the initial infection, including finishing your course of prescribed antibiotics. Dermatologists typically prescribe antibiotics for 10-14 days, but you may start getting better after just 2-3 days. Most people make the same mistake of stopping to take antibiotics soon. If you do not complete the course, you might not kill the bacteria properly, and the infection can return.
Moreover, you should make a conscious effort to minimize skin injuries. Always wear protective clothing while working outdoors or playing sports. Don’t forget to wear sunscreen with SPF 15 to avoid sunburn and apply insect repellent to prevent bug bites.
If you get wounded, clean it thoroughly with warm water and diluted antiseptic solution to rinse dirt and bacteria out. Ensure to properly wash your hands before and after taking care of your wound. Always keep the wound covered with a band-aid until it gets healed. Change the band-aid daily.
Even when you take the above-mentioned precautions, cellulitis can still recur. If you experience more than 3 or 4 infections with a period of 12 months, your dermatologist might recommend a low-dose antibiotic prescription as a long-term therapy course to prevent any future infections.
4. Cellulitis Is Not Usually Contagious
Although cellulitis is known to be a bacterial skin infection, it typically does not spread from one person to another. The potential exceptions are when the individual exposed has an open wound or when there is a direct sin-to-surface or skin-to-skin contact.
So, if you develop cellulitis, you do not have to stress over passing it on to your friends or family members. However, you should still ensure no one touches your open wounds with bare hands, and if they do, ask them to thoroughly wash their hands.
5. Cellulitis Infection Can Develop Anywhere on Your Body
Cellulitis infection can occur anywhere on your body. Though, some body parts are more prone to this infection than others. Among adults, feet, legs, hands, and arms are the most infection-prone sites. Among children, cellulitis is most likely to occur on hands, neck, and face.
When cellulitis comprises the muscles and fat around the eyes, it is called orbital cellulitis. When it comprises the eyelids and skin around the eyes, it is called preseptal or periorbital cellulitis. Cellulitis infection usually develops only on one side of the human body at a time.
6. Cellulitis Infection can be Life-Threatening
Although most cases of cellulitis infections respond well to medical treatments, and its symptoms start to go away in a few days when you start taking antibiotics, if it is left untreated, the infection can expand quickly and become life-threatening.
The main concern for cellulitis cases is sepsis. It is an infection of the bloodstream that can result in shock and even death. Dizziness, extremely low blood pressure, high heart rate, and loss of consciousness are some important symptoms associated with sepsis.
Other potentially life-threatening complications of cellulitis infections include osteomyelitis (infection in the underlying bones) and necrotizing fasciitis, a disease that kills soft tissues, sometimes resulting in loss of limbs and even death.
Often confused for a normal skin infection, cellulitis can do more damage to your body than you can imagine. If it enters the bloodstream, it can quickly become life-threatening. Fortunately, there is much you can do to avoid cellulitis. From preventive measures to medical attention, you have many options to keep cellulitis from invading your body!
If you want to know more about cellulitis treatments, let us help you explore your options. Schedule an appointment for a visit at our Lansing or Mount Pleasant dermatology office, whichever is convenient for you.
The information contained on safehealthcenter.com is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be relied upon for any medical or diagnostic purpose, or for the treatment of any condition or symptom. This information is subject to change without notice and should not be considered current, complete, or exhaustive. You should refrain from relying on such information to recommend a course of treatment for you or any other individual without consulting our experts.