There are many different types of skin infections, one of which is, cellulitis.
You may first notice cellulitis as a small area on your skin that is tender and red. There may be some swelling involved in the area. The redness may spread and the affected individual may develop a fever. There may also be other symptoms such as chills, sweats or swollen lymph nodes near the skin infection. There may be small red spots on top of the reddened skin area or small blisters may form and then burst.
Cellulitis is an infection involving deeper skin layers that usually involve the dermis and subcutaneous tissues.
Staph on the Case
Usually the bacteria involved in cellulitis infections are “Staphylococcus”, often called Staph infections. There may be other bacteria that are the cause of certain cellulitis but Staph is the more common one. The bacteria “streptococcus”, is another common cause for cellulitis.
You can get cellulitis anywhere on your body where the skin has been broken by trauma. Individuals who have diabetes or an impaired immune system are more susceptible to cellulitis. There are several risk factors for developing cellulitis besides diabetes or a weakened immune system.
Age is one risk factor because as you become older, your circulatory system becomes less effective at delivering the white blood cells to certain areas of your body. When you receive a cut or abrasion and your skin is not receiving an adequate supply of blood with those white cells that fight off infection, you can have something like cellulitis form and not be able to fight it off.
Shingles and chickenpox are viral diseases but they cause broken blisters to form, which then present the opportunity for infection to occur.
Whenever you have cracks in your skin, such as when you have recurrent fungal infections on the toes or feet, you have an increased risk for cellulitis to form.
Any skin wound or ulcer can develop into cellulitis. If you notice a wound or ulcer starting to become red, inflamed looking, feeling warm to the touch or where you are feeling pain from the area than you may have developed cellulitis.
Causes of Cellulitis
Different situations can expose us to cellulitis:
Playing with cats or dogs and getting scratches that become infected
Being around pigs or poultry on a farm and suffering any type of broken skin that then becomes infected
Receiving a fish bite, or puncture would from a fish spine or crab pinch can become infected
In young children the H. flu (Hemophilus influenzae) bacteria can also cause cellulitis
You can also receive cellulitis from insect or spider bites.
If your skin is dry, flaky, or swollen it can also be an entry point for bacteria.
Cellulitis is not contagious. A person with cellulitis cannot spread it to others because the top layer of our skin (epidermis) covers the infection.
A doctor will need to examine the inflamed area to tell if it is indeed cellulitis. A culture will be taken to determine what bacteria are causing the infection.
Antibiotics such as penicillin or a penicillin substitute is usually given to treat cellulitis. It is important that you finish the entire bottle of medicine.
If left untreated cellulitis can turn into a condition that may threaten your life, so it is important to seek medical attention immediately.