Cellulitis is the term used to describe a skin infection and infection of the tissues beneath the skin. Cellulitis is more likely to occur if there has been a break in the skin e.g. wound or insect bite. Sometimes dry skin can cause cracks in the skin which is enough for bacteria that normally live on the skin and cause an infection.
Cellulitis can occur anywhere on the skin but most commonly occurs on the legs.
Cellulitis causes pain, swelling and redness to the skin. The skin may also be warm to touch. It is possible for the skin to blister. The patient might develop fevers and feel generally unwell and tired.
Blistering and tracking (redness spreading around lymph nodes) can indicate the infection is becoming more serious.
If in doubt please make an appointment to see doctor promptly as if left untreated skin infections can cause life threatening complications such as septicaemia and shock.
Cellulitis is usually cause by a bacteria - the commonest bugs know to cause cellulitis are Streptococcus or Staphylococcus. These bacteria normally live on the skin and does not cause problems if the skin is intact.
There are many other organisms that can cause cellulitis and if in doubt the doctor might arrange further investigations such as taking a swab to confirm the cause of infection.
This condition can often be managed by your GP with a course of antibiotics - usually Flucloxacillin which needs to be taken four times a day. There are alternatives to this if needed.
It is also very important for the patient to rest and elevate the affected area as much as possible. It may be helpful for the patient to take pain killers and like with managing any infection. Keeping well hydrated is also very important.
Your GP will need to keep a close eye on you and if there is any worsening of symptoms e.g. spreading of the redness, you become more unwell, the redness starts to affect your face, then it may be necessary to be admitted to hospital for stronger antibiotics to be given through a drip.
For patients who suffer with recurrent episodes of cellulitis they may be able to take steps to reduce the risk of further episodes. This can be preventing wounds/injuries to the the legs, treating dry skin promptly and treating infections like athletes foot promptly.
Keeping skin moisturised prevents it from cracking which reduces the risk of getting cellulitis.