The medical definition of cellulitis is an acute infection particularly in the dermal and/or the subcutaneous layers of the human skin. Basically, it is bacterial skin infection which spreads throughout the skin as the bacteria is able to penetrate deeper into the layers below the skin surface.
This type of infection often occurs when bacteria enter an open wound like cuts. Cellulitis is made observable by noticeable redness in the skin, some pain and blisters in the area and sometimes even skin tenderness. These are made possible by the bacteria entry simply by the same bacteria’s ability to produce metabolites or certain enzymes which immediately irritate the skin tissues.
Because this type of infection can immediately escalate it is highly recommended that prompt attention and treatment is given once symptoms are experienced or observable in order to prevent further spreading of the infection.
Common Symptoms of Cellulitis
As mentioned, the infections often happen because of cuts or wounds that allow bacterial penetration into the layers of the skin. The most common areas affected by cellulitis are also the same body parts which are highly susceptible to cuts and wounds. To name the top three, these are the legs, arms and other exposed skin.
It should be noted that while cellulitis is mostly found to affect the tissue layers underneath the skin, it is possible that the infection will spread through the bloodstream once the bacteria is able to reach a certain depth. In line with this, it would really help if you are aware of the common symptoms of cellulitis in order to prevent other complications especially in the vital organs like the heart and lungs. Listed below are some if not all of the common symptoms of cellulitis occurrence.
- Often mistaken for a simple rash, there is a noticeable redness in the skin surface which often spreads rapidly.
- Pain in the same area where the redness is observable.
- Swollen portions of the skin which is considerably tender and inflamed.
- Skin discoloration from orange, pale red up to bright red in color.
- Small to large skin blisters wherein pus may accumulate.
- Other symptoms include vomiting, high fever and nausea.
Having been defined as a bacterial infection, cellulitis is primarily caused or triggered by the entrance of certain microbes in the skin through open wounds. The most common bacteria which can cause this kind of infection are streptococcus and staphylococcus. The former is known to be capable of quick reproduction and spreading which can immediately worsen an infection. Both of the mentioned bacteria cause infection by enzyme production which irritates or rather aggravates the tissue layers of the skin.
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Worse, these bacteria often weaken one’s immune system allowing other bacteria to easily proliferate and stop the immune system from preventing the bacteria from doing so. On the other hand, the staphylococcus bacteria are ones which are known to pass through open wounds and cause infection. Once this type of bacteria penetrates the skin a certain depth, it will then populate small pockets in the skin tissue resulting in pus accumulation.
Risk Factors for Cellulitis
While open wounds like cuts remain the main risk factor in cellulitis development, there are other factors which can lead to the same. Below are some of the many factors which can lead to cellulitis occurrence in any part of the skin.
- An open and fresh injury like a fracture, cut or burn
- A weak immune system caused by diseases like but not limited to diabetes and HIV
- Various skin disorders like eczema and shingles