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Cellulitis

What is cellulitis?

Cellulitis is a deep bacterial infection of the skin. The infection usually involves the face, or the arms and legs. It may happen in normal skin, but it usually occurs after some type of trauma causes an opening in your skin. This opening can lead to an infection.

What is the cause of cellulitis?

Cellulitis is usually caused by a bacterial infection of a wound or area of skin that is no longer intact. The most common bacterial causes of cellulitis include the following:

  • group A ß - hemolytic streptococcus
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae
  • Staphylococcus aureus
Other causes may include human or animal bites, or injuries that occur in water.

What are the symptoms of cellulitis?

The following are the most common symptoms of cellulitis. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • swelling of the skin
  • tenderness
  • warm skin
  • pain
  • bruising
  • blisters
  • fever
  • headache
  • chills
  • feeling weak
  • red streaks from the original site of the cellulitis
Some cases of cellulitis are considered an emergency. Always consult your physician immediately if you notice any of the following symptoms:
  • a very large area of red, inflamed skin
  • fever
  • if the area affected is causing numbness, tingling, or other changes in a hand, arm, leg, or foot
  • if the skin appears black
  • if the area that is red and swollen is around your eye(s) or behind the ear(s)
  • if you have diabetes or have a weakened immune system and develops cellulitis
The symptoms of cellulitis may resemble other skin conditions. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.

How is cellulitis diagnosed?

Diagnosis is usually based on a medical history and physical examination. Blood and skin samples may be taken to confirm the diagnosis and the type of bacteria that is present.

Treatment for cellulitis:

Specific treatment for cellulitis will be determined by your physician based on:

  • your age, overall health, and medical history
  • extent of the condition
  • your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • expectations for the course of the condition
  • your opinion or preference

Immediate treatment can help prevent the spread of cellulitis. Treatment may include:

  • oral or intravenous (IV) antibiotics
  • warm, wet dressings on the infection site
  • surgical intervention
  • if you have an extremity (arm or leg) that is affected, your physician may have you elevate the extremity and decrease the amount of activity
  • rest

Based on the physical examination, your physician may treat you in the hospital, depending on the severity of the cellulitis. In the hospital, you may receive antibiotics and fluids through an intravenous (IV) catheter.

Click here to view the
Online Resources of Dermatology

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