Cellulitis

Jun 1, 2010
2010 / June 2010

Cellulitis is an infection of the skin and the soft tissue underneath, most often caused by bacteria that have entered from a cut, scrape or small crack in the skin. It is a common and, in some cases, potentially serious infection which can lead to hospitalization. Left untreated, the spreading infection can turn life-threatening.

According to the CDC, skin problems are the third-most frequent medical problem reported by returning travelers. It is estimated that each year two to three people per 100 are affected by cellulitis. It affects males and females equally, although a higher incidence of affected males has been recently reported.

Initially, the skin appears as a swollen, pink to red area that feels hot and tender to touch. It may also spread rapidly. Occasionally, red streaks radiate outward on the skin, and blisters or pus-filled bumps may be present. Cellulitis can also cause fever and swollen lymph nodes. Many people with cellulitis complain of feeling run-down or tired. The areas most commonly affected are the lower legs, although it can occur anywhere on your body or face, including your eyes.

Different types of bacteria can cause cellulitis. Most of the time, the offending bacteria are Streptococcus pyogenes, the same type that causes strep throat, and Staphylococcus aureus. Many staph bacteria live on our skin and do not cause any problems, but that is not the case with S. aureus: It is the most common bacteria causing staph infections.

Cellulitis can occur after an injury to the skin, an animal or insect bite, burn, puncture or a surgical wound. Sometimes there is no obvious cause or break in the skin. The chances for cellulitis increase with diabetes, circulatory problems, past surgery or radiation treatment of the legs or arms and chronic athlete’s foot. People with a weakened immune system due to medication or an underlying illness are also at risk. Certain skin disorders such as chicken pox, shingles and eczema cause breaks in the skin and place you at increased risk for cellulitis. It left untreated, cellulitis can develop into bacteremia, a bacterial infection in the blood.

Most cases of cellulitis improve with a single course of antibiotics for 14 days. Initially, the cellulitis may seem to get worse during the first few days of antibiotic therapy. This is because the bacteria release toxins when they are killed off by the antibiotics. If oral antibiotics do not work or if it is a very serious case, intravenous antibiotics may be necessary. Cellulitis used to be relatively easy to treat, but with the emergence of community-acquired methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA), this is no longer true.

The reddened skin may be a signal of a more serious infection of the inner layers of the skin. Below your skin, the bacteria can spread quickly, entering the bloodstream through your lymph nodes. Repeated episodes of cellulitis can damage the lymphatic system, obstructing drainage and causing chronic swelling of the extremity. In rare instances, the infection can spread to the deep tissue called the fascial lining. Necrotizing fasciitis, also known as flesh-eating strep, is an example of a deep-layer infection. This represents an extreme emergency, and you must get to the nearest emergency room for treatment.

If you believe you have cellulitis, make an appointment to see your healthcare provider as soon as possible. While you are waiting to see your doctor, elevate the area to reduce swelling and apply a cool, moist compress to relieve pain. You need to start treatment with antibiotics to avoid complications. If you have fever and chills or if the cellulitis involves your face or eyes, you should go to the nearest emergency room.

Patients with diabetes should keep their blood sugar under control and speak to their doctors about proper foot care to prevent infection. Keep skin moisturized to prevent cracks and breaks in the skin. Wear shoes that fit well and provide enough room for your feet. Learn how to trim your nails to avoid harming the skin around them to prevent infection.

In most cases, symptoms improve within 24–48 hours of beginning antibiotic treatment. It is important to take the medication as prescribed and finish the entire course of medication, even if you start feeling better. Your doctor will also make sure that any underlying medical problems are being appropriately managed. The prognosis is usually good; but cellulitis can return, especially in individuals with poor circulation, chronic swelling of the legs, or skin that is not intact. Visit www.cdc.gov.

The content of this article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Introducing

FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

© Ukrphoto | Dreamstime.com

News
Sep 15, 2019

Cunard Launches Exclusive Musical

Cunard premiered the musical Top Hat aboard Queen Victoria last week. Next week, the musical premieres aboard Queen Elizabeth. The musical is slated to appear exclusively on Cunard ships for the next four years.

To New Heights

United Airlines announces a number of new routes.

Lufthansa. Photo: Alexander Efisko | Dreamstime.com

Feature
Sep 15, 2019

Lufthansa Launches Innovative Carbon Offset Program

Lufthansa is starting an innovative new carbon offset program, Compensaid, which will allow customers to purchase CO2 neutral aviation fuels. The platform allows customers to replace the fossil fuel of their flights with sustainable aviation fuel.

Desert. Photo: Galyna Andrushko | Dreamstime.com

Daily
Sep 15, 2019

Shop New Desert-Inspired Capsule Collection From The Luxury Collection

The Luxury Collection again teamed with artist Sofía Sanchez de Beta to unveil an exclusive capsule collection, this time with 54 pieces inspired by the Arabian Desert and Emirati culture. The ready-to-wear line includes an array of separates created with Dubai’s climate in mind, such as lightweight blouses and tunics, flowing jumpsuits, long skirts and dresses.

© GNTO

The Island of the Knights

Welcome to Rhodes, a medieval treasure beautifully preserved throughout the centuries. Rhodes is the capital of the Dodecanese, an island ideal not only for those who want to relax, but also for those looking for an action-packed holiday! With its bright green hills, rich green valleys and uninterrupted line of golden beaches, Rhodes is truly a blessed place. “The sun island” has more sunshiny days and milder temperatures throughout the year than any other location in Greece. It is, after all, one of the country’s easternmost places and among the first to welcome summer on its impressive beaches. Add in the excellent facilities for tourism, the island’s special blend of cosmopolitan and traditional, and numerous cultural and archaeological sites, the most important being the Medieval (Old) Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and you’ve got the perfect holiday destination. While on Rhodes, don’t miss a daytrip to nearby Sými. An island of sponge divers and seamen, Sými used to have 30,000 inhabitants before the Second World War and was the richest island in the Dodecanese, despite its small size. Today, Sými attracts many visitors thanks to its beautifully preserved Neo-Classical buildings and the famous Archangel Michael monastery at Panormitis.

LG Pay. Photo: Piotr Swat | Dreamstime.com

Feature
Sep 14, 2019

LG Pay

With more mobile pay options like Apple Pay and Venmo becoming commonplace, electronics manufacturer LG is getting in on the action.

Hawaiian Airlines. Photo: Ajdibilio | Dreamstime.com

© Brett Critchley | Dreamstime.com

Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas. Photo: Jason P Ross | Dreamstime.com

Santa Monica, California. Photo: Tupungato | Dreamstime.com

© GNTO

The Island of the Knights

Sponsored Content

Google Search. Photo: Viorel Dudau | Dreamstime.com

Feature
Sep 13, 2019

Google Expands Price Comparison Tool

Google announced last month it added additional features to its price comparison tool. The tool helps users plan trips and compare rates. The new features include one that shows whether the price of a planned flight plus accommodations is low, average or high.

© VanderWolfImages | Dreamstime.com

News
Sep 13, 2019

Singapore Airlines Begins Non-Stop Service Between Singapore, Seattle

Singapore Airlines launched its non-stop service between Singapore (SIN) and Seattle (SEA), Sept. 3. Seattle is Singapore Airlines’ fourth U.S. destination following Los Angeles (LAX), New York (EWR) and San Francisco (SFO) to receive non-stop service to and from Singapore.

Beach access ramp for wheelchair on South Beach, Miami. Photo: Alkan2011 | Dreamstime.com

Daily
Sep 13, 2019

Florida Beaches Put Accessibility First

For those without accessibility issues, going to the beach can be simple. There’s nothing to do but pack up your gear, head to the shore and walk out onto the sand. For those who may be inhibited, however, the beach poses more of a challenge.