Cellulitis is an infection of the skin that develops when the skin breaks due to a cut, scrape or injury. Streptococcus and staphylococcus are the common types of bacteria that cause cellulitis. It is characterized by warm, red and itchy rashes that spreads and causes fever. When it is not properly treated, it can cause complications such as meningitis and sepsis.
Causes of cellulitis
- Injuries that cause tearing of the skin
- Long-term condition of the skin such as psoriasis or eczema
- Infections after surgery
- Infection of the bone under the skin such as a long-standing open wound that is deep that exposes the bone.
- Foreign objects in the skin
Risk of infection
- Skin conditions such as eczema, chickenpox, shingles and patches of very dry skin are susceptible to these bacteria.
- Damage in the affected area such as a burn, cut or scrape
- Lymphedema which is chronic swelling of the arms or legs.
- A compromised immune system such as kidney disease, diabetes and HIV/AIDS.
- History of cellulitis.
Symptoms of cellulitis
- Pain, tenderness or soreness of the affected area
- A red, warm and itchy rash that spreads
- The skin is tight and stretched
- Fatigue, chills and fever when the condition becomes severe
- Avoid sharing personal belongings with others such as towels, razors or clothing.
- Wash the area affected with cellulitis regularly using soap and water and rinse to prevent it from spreading to other areas. If there is a cut, scrape or burn, clean it immediately. Continue washing the area until totally healed. If the wound is deep and large, bandage the area using sterile gauze. Change the bandages regularly.
- Elevate the affected leg above the level of the heart to increase circulation of blood in the area and for fast healing of the condition. When lying in bed, place the leg on stacks of pillow.
- Check the wound regularly for signs of becoming severe such as swelling, redness or the area becomes itchy and the wound is draining since immediate care is needed.
- Apply moisturizers on the skin regularly to prevent flaking of the skin which makes it susceptible to infection. Protect the feet by wearing socks and strong shoes.
- If suffering from athlete’s foot, treat it immediately to prevent development of severe infections.
- Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
- Avoid performing activities that can cause cuts and nicks in the legs and feet such as hiking in brushy areas and gardening.
- Clean properly cuts and scrapes with soap and water and cover the affected area with a clean bandage to prevent recurrence of cellulitis.