Cellulitis is a bacterial skin infection that affects the deeper layers of the skin. This makes it a more serious condition vis-a-vis epidermal diseases which affect the more superficial skin layers. Cellulitis is also more problematic for given its somewhat generic symptoms, it is liable to misdiagnosis on many an occasion.

Medical Facts about Cellulitis

  • Cellulitis can be caused by many types of bacteria though the most commonly observed of these is staph or Staphylococcus Aureus, followed by strep or Group A Streptococcus.
  • It affects the dermis and subcutaneous tissue which form the deeper layers of the skin.
  • Exposure to bacteria can also be attributed to several factors. In 50 – 60 percent of cases, cellulitis occurs are sites of trauma where skin is broken or openly exposed. Other than that, diabetic individuals, those with low immunity or recently operated upon and people having long-term skin conditions such as psoriasis or eczema are at greater risk of contracting cellulitis.
  • This disease is not contagious. Since it does not affect the surface skin, the epidermal layer keeps the infection covered and thus impossible to transmit.
  • Some forms of non-infected skin inflammation often mimic certain symptoms of cellulitis, leaving much room for misdiagnosis. Stasis Dermatitis and Impetigo are two conditions that are often mistakenly diagnosed as cellulitis and vice versa. Thus, it is very important that the physician approached be able to distinguish whether the inflammation is due to infection or otherwise.

What the Condition Entails

  • The most defining symptom of cellulitis is disfiguration of the skin in one or many forms. Typically redness of skin with an increasing area of coverage is seen. Tenderness and pain in the affected area is also common. Other than that, skin dimpling and a feeling of warmth at the site of infection could also be experienced.
  • Often times, the infection is accompanied by a high fever and some allied symptoms. Chills and shivering, fatigue and weakness, muscle aches and unprecedented sweating may also cause discomfort to the patient.
  • Additional symptoms such as red streaking in the infected region, nausea, lethargy and drowsiness signal that the bacteria are spreading. Seeking doctor’s advice in this scenario is highly recommended.

How Serious It Is

  • Usually, it takes about 7 to 14 days for cellulitis to be completely cured. In most cases however, the symptoms disappear within 3 to 4 days of taking medication.
  • It is considered to be a sign of alarm if prescribed medication does not produce significant result within 3 days post the beginning of treatment. In such cases, the chances of severe infection that may have further repercussions are high. Thus it is important that the consulting physician be informed of a patient’s progress after 3 days of treatment.
  • In some cases, oral medication may fail to produce results thus rendering hospitalization necessary. This occurs when the body appears unresponsive to the antibiotics or high fever is contracted or if the patient has certain pre-existing medical conditions.
  • There are several complications that can develop in consequence of a severe case of cellulitis. Sometimes the infection can spread to large parts of the body, entering the bloodstream or lymph nodes. This could possibly result in a blood or bone infection, swelling of the lymph nodes or in extreme cases, even gangrene or tissue death.
  • If cellulitis occurs recurrently, it could damage the lymphatic drainage system, thus causing chronic swelling of the affected region. A history or propensity to contracting cellulitis must then be thoroughly investigated.

Therefore, even as cellulitis is not a life threatening condition, it can have a severe impact on the body. It is thus recommended that the appearance of painful redness, especially along with fever, should lead to an immediate consultation with an able physician.