When you first hear the word cellulitis, it may conjure images of cellulite in your mind.
While the two words are similar, the conditions have absolutely nothing to do with each other. Cellulitis is a bacterial infection that can turn deadly if left untreated. This common infection can happen on any part of your body, but the lower legs are the most affected. This skin infection occurs when a cut in the skin allows bacteria into your body. The severity of cellulitis largely depends on how quickly it is treated. Cases mild or severe, if left untreated, can turn dire. The bacteria multiplying in your body may start in your lower extremities, it can spread to different parts of your body and even your bloodstream.
Causes of Cellulitis
If there is a cut or wound, cellulitis can develop. If there is a break in your skin, bacteria can enter the body. It could be insect bites, a small puncture, a scratch, or an opening left from surgery. Certain factors may make you more vulnerable to cellulitis. These include:
- Skin conditions like dermatitis, eczema, and athlete’s foot.
- A previous case of cellulitis
- Skin that is swollen can crack, which will allow bacteria to enter the body.
- A condition that makes you more vulnerable to infections because of a weakened immune system like diabetes and cancer.
These conditions may make you more susceptible to contracting cellulitis. But even if you don’t have these conditions, you can still get cellulitis if you have an untreated wound.
Symptoms of Cellulitis
Any wound in the skin or ulcer can develop cellulitis. Because everybody is different, each person may have different symptoms. Some of the more common symptoms of cellulitis include:
- Skin starts to swell
- Skin becomes tender
- Area is warm
There are mild and severe cases of cellulitis. If you being to experience any of the following symptoms, you need to go to the doctor immediately.
- Area becomes inflamed
- Skin around area begins to turn black
- If you have a weak immune system and suspect you have cellulitis
- If the area is causing numbness in your extremities
Cellulitis is a serious condition, and you should take it seriously. If left untreated, the infection can spread to your tissue and eventually end up in your bloodstream. Your doctor will pick the best treatment option depending on your health, age, and how severe the case is. The quicker you get treatment can slow or stop cellulitis from spreading. Some of the treatments include:
- Oral medication or injectables
Your treatment depends on how severe your case is and your immune system.
Complications from cellulitis can arise if you do not seek treatment immediately. They can also happen if the treatment doesn’t work. The most common complications are:
- Gangrene - this happens when tissue dies. This complication can be dire because it can spread. A steady supply of blood keeps tissue alive, and when the blood stops, the tissue will die. If not treated immediately, gangrene can end in death.
- Abscess - this is a pouch of pus. The pouch develops under your skin and can develop near or around an injury. It will need to be drained by a medical professional.
- Necrotizing fasciitis - More commonly known as the flesh-eating disease, this infection occurs deep within your skin. The infection can spread and affect your connective tissue and cause gangrene. This complication of cellulitis is dangerous, and you should seek treatment immediately.