Cellulites

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Overview

Cellulitis is a common bacterial skin infection, with over 14 million cases occurring in the United States annually. This activity educates the learner on the etiology, epidemiology, evaluation, and treatment of cellulitis. It provides the latest updates on how to accurately diagnose, effectively treat, and manage patients with bacterial cellulitis. Upon completing the activity, the learner should be able to differentiate cellulitis from other mimickers correctly. The learner will know how to discern when cellulitis treatment is appropriate in the outpatient setting with oral antibiotics versus when a patient should be hospitalized and treated with intravenous antibiotics, and how the interprofessional team can best manage patients with cellulitis.

Symptoms

In general, cellulitis appears as a red, swollen, and painful area of skin that is warm and tender to the touch. The skin may look pitted, like the peel of an orange, or blisters may appear on the affected skin. Some people may also develop fever and chills.Symptoms

An irritated area of skin that tends to expand.

Swelling.

Tenderness.

Pain.

Warmth.

Fever.

Chills.

Spots.

Causes

Cellulitis is caused when bacteria, most commonly streptococcus and staphylococcus, enter through a crack or break in the skin. The incidence of a more serious staphylococcus infection called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is increasing.Cellulitis is usually caused by a bacterial infection. The bacteria can infect the deeper layers of your skin if it's broken, for example, because of an insect bite or cut, or if it's cracked and dry.

Risk factors

Several factors increase the risk of cellulitis:

Injury. Any cut, fracture, burn or scrape gives bacteria an entry point.

Weakened immune system. ...

Skin conditions. ...

Long-term (chronic) swelling of the arms or legs (lymphedema). ...

History of cellulitis. ...

Being overweight.

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Complications

Complications of cellulitis can be very serious. These can include extensive tissue damage and tissue death (gangrene). The infection can also spread to the blood, bones, lymph system, heart, or nervous system. These infections can lead to amputation, shock, or even death.

Prevention

If you have a break in your skin, clean it right away and apply antibiotic ointment. Cover your wound with ointment and a bandage until it’s fully healed. Change the bandage daily.

Watch your wounds for discoloration, drainage, or pain. These could be signs of an infection.

Take these precautions if you have poor circulation or a condition that increases your risk of cellulitis:

Keep your skin moist to prevent cracking.

Promptly treat conditions that cause cracks in the skin, like athlete’s foot.

Wear protective equipment when you work or play sports.

Inspect your feet daily for signs of injury or infection.