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What is Cellulitis and How to Fight It?
- Cellulitis is a serious skin infection that can become fatal if not treated immediately
- The cellulitis infection is characterized as bacterial and can easily spread
- Preventing cellulitis starts with understanding its symptoms and various cellulitis treatment options that are available
While many skin diseases are not life-threatening and do not require immediate treatment, cellulitis is not one of those conditions. This skin infection has the potential to be fatal if allowed to spread without treatment. That’s why you should seek medical attention at the first sign of the condition.
If you are wondering “What is cellulitis?” the simple answer is that it’s a bacterial skin infection. What happens is the bacteria creeps into your body via some type of open sore, a cut, ant bites, or similar injury on your skin. However, if you do not have a strong immune system, the bacteria may be able to slip by even if you do not have any open wounds on your skin. In most cases, the infection begins in the lower legs and moves upward. However, it can appear on the face, the arms, or even the buttocks.
Once inside, the bacteria works its way down deeper into your tissue. As it continues to spread, so does the infection. If the bacteria reach your lymph nodes and get into your lymphatic system, you could face a life-threatening infection.
The first signs of the infection will be noticeable inflammation around the area. The skin will be red, swollen, and tender to the touch. You may notice that the redness and other symptoms begin spreading as well. As this happens, red streaks will also begin appearing in the affected areas and the level of discomfort will also increase.
As the infection progresses, you’ll have other symptoms as well including a fever and chills. This is a sign that you need to see your physician immediately.
Who is at Risk for Cellulitis
Although anyone can acquire cellulitis, some people are more vulnerable to the condition than others. For example, if your immune system is compromised because of diseases such as HIV/AIDS or diabetes you could be at higher risk. Illnesses such as chicken pox can also increase your risk because all of those bumps can be used as openings for the bacterial infection to enter your body. Frequent fungal infections and swelling of your skin can cause damage to parts of your skin that can make it easier for bacteria to enter.
Because cellulitis is a bacterial infection, your physician will prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection. If you have caught the problem at an early enough stage, you can complete the course of cellulitis treatment. In some cases, your physician may want to give you a shot of antibiotics, as well as a prescription, so the drugs can start acting quickly to stop the infection in its tracks.
If the infection has spread and become more severe, you may be required to stay in the hospital so your antibiotics can be delivered via IV and so your condition can be closely monitored. Your physician must watch for signs of sepsis which occurs when the infection enters your bloodstream or other complications. If the infection began on your face, he or she may be concerned about damage to your vision or the development of meningitis if the bacteria reaches your brain.
The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.
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