Cellulitis

Cellulitis

Chris Schach

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Key Points
*Infection of the skin due to bacterial infection
*Often caused by the Streptococcus or Staphylococcus bacteria
*Symptoms include fever, chill and fatigue
*Cutaneous presentation consists of redness, swelling, and a hot sensation in the affected area

Cellulitis is a bacterial infection of the skin, caused by the Streptococcus or Staphylococcus bacteria, which enters the skin through small fissures, most often on the face, legs, arms or hands. In addition to fever, chills and fatigue, Cellulitis causes redness, swelling and a hot sensation in the area of infection. In untreated cases, Abscesses can form in the affected area, and affected persons can develop bacteremia (bacteria in the bloodstream).

Cellulitis can develop in any person, regardless of age, sex or race. There are several factors which can increase the risk of infection, including diabetes, Lymphedema, Wounds, edema, athlete's foot, insect bites, poor circulation, weakened immune systems, and alcoholism.

Differential Diagnosis (Other conditions with similar appearance)

Angioedema
Erythema multiforme
Dermatitis, Atopic
Impetigo
Dermatitis, Contact
Toxic epidermal necrolysis

Diagnosis
Key Points
*Diagnosis based on skin appearance in conjunction with other symptoms
*Bacterial culture will confirm the type of organism causing the infection
*Blood cultures may be performed to confirm diagnosis, along with complete blood count tests

Diagnosis is based on physical examination of skin appearance in conjunction with other symptoms. A bacterial culture will be performed to confirm the type of organism causing the infection. Health care professionals may track the growth of redness in the affected area. Blood cultures can confirm diagnosis, along with complete blood count tests.

Treatment
*If cutaneous symptoms appear, contact health care professionals for care
*Goal of treatment is to control symptoms and prevent the spread of infection
*If fever develops or the affected area is on the face, seek emergency medical care
*Mild cases are treated with orally administered Antibiotics

Even in mild cases, Cellulitis should be treated by health care professionals. Elevate the area and apply cool compresses to reduce pain and swelling while waiting to see a doctor. Once diagnosis has been confirmed, health care professionals may use antibiotic sensitivity testing to determine what treatment course will be most effective. Treatment consists of an antibiotic course to fight the infection. In severe cases, or if the affected person is chronically ill, hospitalization may be required, where treatment consists of intravenous Antibiotics. It is recommended that affected persons complete the full course of any antibiotics prescribed.

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