Saving Your Skin from Cellulitis
Cellulitis may only be a bacterial skin infection but when left untreated, it can become life-threatening. Find out more about this infection and how to protect your skin.
Being a common and potentially serious skin infection, Cellulitis can be a cause of concern for a number of people.
In cellulitis cases, the skin may appear red and swollen at first, with the affected area feeling warm and tender to the touch. If left untreated, the swelling can spread quickly, with the infection even going to the lymph nodes and bloodstream. Before it becomes life-threatening, it is important to seek medical help once you have recognized the symptoms.
Cellulitis: What You Need to Know
Aside from the redness, swelling, pain, and tenderness in the affected area, some people develop an abscess (tender mass) with pus. In more serious cases, patients develop blisters, fevers, chills, muscle aches, and nausea because of the infection.
The appearance of red streaks, along with drowsiness and lethargy could be indicators that the infection is spreading. It is important to seek immediate emergency care in these serious cases. If the fever is not present, it would still be best to see a doctor within the day, especially if you have a red, swollen, rash that is tender, warm, and expanding in size.
Cellulitis vs. Erysipelas
Erysipelas is also a skin infection caused by bacteria, with similar symptoms like cellulitis. The difference is that the cellulitis rash has a raised border, making it stand out from the skin that surrounds it. The bright redness of erysipelas and its sharp borders can also be the differentiating features.
The infection can start when the Staphylococcus or Streptococcus bacteria penetrate the skin through cuts, bug bites or wounds. Bacteria can also enter through swollen skin or areas of dry and flaky skin. It is then unlikely for you to contract cellulitis from another person unless you have an open cut that came in contact with an infected person’s skin.
Cellulitis is treated with prescription oral antibiotics. After three days, you should be able to tell whether the infection is responding to the treatment. Intravenous treatment may be necessary if your symptoms are too extensive or when these are not addressed by the oral antibiotics. Keep in mind that you should follow your doctor’s prescription and make sure to finish the entire course of medication, so the infection is properly cured.
To help ease the pain and swelling at home, you may place a cool damp cloth above the affected area. You may also try elevating the affected part of the body if possible. For severe pains, ask your doctor to prescribe pain medications or whether it will be beneficial to wear compression wraps or stockings.
Prevention and Risk Factors
Several factors can increase your risk of cellulitis, including a weakened immune system, diabetes, obesity, and other skin conditions like eczema and athlete’s foot. To prevent cellulitis, it is important to clean a cut right away and cover it with a bandage.
As an added protective measure to prevent skin from breaking and cracking, keep it moist with lotion or other similar products. Sunscreen and insect repellants can also help, but avoid applying moisturizer to open sores. Keeping the fingernails trimmed is a safeguard to prevent scratching. When playing sports, wear protective equipment as much as possible.
It is also a good practice to inspect your feet every day to check for signs of injury or infection.
A healthy skin should remain one of our priorities to improve our health and well-being. Be cautious on what you’re consuming every single day, because this will teach you the skill of being disciplined.