Cellulitis is inflammation, usually infective, of subcutaneous tissue
Cellulitis is a common, potentially serious bacterial skin infection. The affected skin appears swollen and red and is typically painful and warm to the touch.Cellulitis usually affects the skin on the lower legs, but it can occur in the face, arms and other areas.
- Cellulitis occurs when bacteria, most commonly streptococcus and staphylococcus, enter through a crack or break in your skin. The incidence of a more serious staphylococcus infection called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is increasing.
- Although cellulitis can occur anywhere on your body, the most common location is the lower leg. Bacteria are most likely to enter disrupted areas of skin, such as where you’ve had recent surgery, cuts, puncture wounds, an ulcer, athlete’s foot or dermatitis.
- Animal bites can cause cellulitis. Bacteria can also enter through areas of dry, flaky skin or swollen skin.
- Tinea pedis
- Varicose leg ulcer
- Injury. Any cut, fracture, burn or scrape gives bacteria an entry point.
- Weakened immune system. Conditions that weaken your immune system — such as diabetes, leukemia and HIV/AIDS — leave you more susceptible to infections. Certain medications also can weaken your immune system.
- Skin conditions. Conditions such as eczema, athlete’s foot and shingles can cause breaks in the skin, which give bacteria an entry point.
- Chronic swelling of your arms or legs (lymphedema). This condition sometimes follows surgery.
- History of cellulitis. Having had cellulitis before makes you prone to develop it again.
- Obesity. Being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing cellulitis.
- Red area of skin that tends to expand
- Red spots
- Skin dimpling
- Wash your wound daily with soap and water. Do this gently as part of your normal bathing.
- Cover your wound with a bandage. Change bandages at least daily.
- Watch for signs of infection. Redness, pain and drainage all signal possible infection and the need for medical evaluation.
People with diabetes and those with poor circulation need to take extra precautions to prevent skin injury. Good skin care measures include the following:
- Inspect your feet daily. Regularly check your feet for signs of injury so you can catch infections early.
- Moisturize your skin regularly. Lubricating your skin helps prevent cracking and peeling. Do not apply moisturizer to open sores.
- Trim your fingernails and toenails carefully. Take care not to injure the surrounding skin.
- Protect your hands and feet. Wear appropriate footwear and gloves.
- Promptly treat infections on the skin’s surface (superficial), such as athlete’s foot. Superficial skin infections can easily spread from person to person. Don’t wait to start treatment.