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Cellulitis:
Cellulitis is a common skin infection caused by bacteria.

Causes

Staphylococcus and streptococcus bacteria are the most common causes of cellulitis. The skin normally has many types of bacteria living on it. When there is a break in the skin, however, bacteria can enter the body and cause infection and inflammation. The skin tissues in the infected area become red, hot, irritated, and painful. Risk factors for cellulitis include:

• Cracks or peeling skin between the toes
• History of peripheral vascular disease
• Injury or trauma with a break in the skin (skin wounds) • Insect bites and stings, animal bites, or human bites • Ulcers from diabetes or a blockage in the blood supply (ischemia) • Use of corticosteroid medications or medications that suppress the immune system • Wound from a recent surgery

Staphylococcus and streptococcus bacteria are the most common causes of cellulitis. The skin normally has many types of bacteria living on it. When there is a break in the skin, however, bacteria can enter the body and cause infection and inflammation. The skin tissues in the infected area become red, hot, irritated, and painful. Risk factors for cellulitis include:

• Cracks or peeling skin between the toes
• History of peripheral vascular disease
• Injury or trauma with a break in the skin (skin wounds) • Insect bites and stings, animal bites, or human bites • Ulcers from diabetes or a blockage in the blood supply (ischemia) • Use of corticosteroid medications or medications that suppress the immune system • Wound from a recent surgery

Exams and Tests
During a physical examination, the doctor may find:
• Redness, warmth, and swelling of the skin
• Swelling and drainage if the infection is around a skin wound • Swollen glands (lymph nodes) near the cellulitis
Your health care provider may mark the edges of the redness with a pen, to see if the redness goes past the marked border over the next several days. Tests that may be used:
• Blood culture
• Complete blood count (CBC)
Treatment
Cellulitis treatment may require a hospital stay if:
• You are very sick (very high temperature, blood pressure problems, nausea and vomiting that does not go away) • You have been on antibiotics and the infection is getting worse • Your immune system is not working well (due to cancer, HIV) • You have an infection around your eyes

Most of the time, treatment with oral antibiotics and close follow-up is enough. Treatment is focused on controlling the infection and preventing complications. You may receive antibiotics to control the infection, and analgesics to control pain. Raise the infected area higher than your heart to reduce swelling. Rest until your symptoms improve.

Outlook (Prognosis)

It is possible to be cured with 7 - 10 days of treatment. Cellulitis may be more severe in people with chronic diseases and those who are more prone to infection because their immune system is not working properly (immunosuppressed). People with fungal infections of the feet may have cellulitis that keeps coming back. The cracks in the skin offer an opening for bacteria to get inside. Possible Complications

• Bone infection (osteomyelitis)
• Inflammation of the lymph vessels (lymphangitis)
• Meningitis (if cellulitis is on the face)
• Sepsis, shock
• Tissue death (gangrene)
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if:
• You have symptoms of cellulitis
• You are being treated for cellulitis and you develop new symptoms, such as persistent fever, drowsiness, lethargy, blistering over the cellulitis, or red streaks that spread Seek medical attention immediately if the cellulitis is on your face. Prevention

Protect your skin by:
• Keeping your skin moist with lotions or ointments to prevent cracking • Wearing shoes that fit well and provide enough...
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