What causes cellulitis?
The strep or staph bacteria are responsible for celullitis.
What are the symptoms of cellulitis?
- Rash or sore that appears quickly and spreads within the first day
- Redness and inflammation that widens as time passes
- Heat from the infected area
- Pain and tenderness in the affected region
The following are signs that the infection is growing:
- Muscle pain
- Joint stiffness
Is cellulitis contagious?
Although cellulitis is a bacterial infection, it is not contagious. Cellulitis is an infection that occurs deep in the skin, and the skin acts as a cover, preventing the spread of bacteria. This is not true of all skin infections, however, and many superficial infections (that occur on the top layers of the skin) are in fact, contagious.
How do I prevent cellulitis?
As with most skin infections, cellulitis is not always preventable. Even in completely healthy persons, the chance of developing it can be reduced, but not eliminated as the bacteria responsible for causing cellulitis are common ones that live on the surface of the skin. Even microscopic cuts that are invisible to the eye can create the opening for a potential infection to develop. However, these steps can help to reduce the chances of developing cellulitis:
- Proper hygiene and regular washing will help to reduce all types of infections
- Not all wounds are preventable, but try to reduce the risk of cuts and scrapes from occurring
- Take proper care of cuts, even if they are small to reduce the chance of infection
- If you have dry skin, or a condition like eczema and psoriasis which can often lead to exposed skin, moisturize your skin and reduce the chances of skin breakage
- If you have itchy skin due to allergies or other skin problems, take care of the itching as soon as possible. Itching causes scratching. Scratching is one of the most common causes of cuts.
How difficult is cellulitis to treat?
Antibiotics can effectively treat the condition. In the majority of cases, oral antibiotics can clear the infection without any complications within a week or two. However, care needs to be taken if the condition does not heal or becomes worse. In rare cases, cellulitis can spread to the bloodstream and causes it to spread throughout the body. This condition is called sepsis and is a very serious concern.
Are there any risk factors that make an infection more likely?
Anyone can get cellulitis as it is caused by common bacteria that live on the skin, and cuts and scrapes are common injuries. However, some factors make the person more susceptible to infection such as:
- Weakened immune system (old age, illness such as AIDS or cancer, people with transplants, or people using medication that suppress the immune system)
- Patients with diabetes (due to poor blood circulation)
- Those sharing common hygiene facilities such as the military, college dorms, shared housing
- Those with skin diseases such as eczema which itch and cause the patient to scratch often, causing cuts far more commonly than the average person