Cellulitis (sel-u-LI-tis) is a common, potentially serious bacterial skin infection. Cellulitis describes the inflammatory response caused by bacteria in the skin below the epidermis. The immune system responds to invading bacteria with an inflammatory reaction in the dermis and subcutaneous tissues, resulting in signs of inflammation.
Even though cellulitis is an infection of the skin that forms in the fat and underlying tissue, it often appears as a rash on the skin of the patient. The area that is infected is generally very tender and sore to the touch, as well as being very red in appearance with the formation of small bumps.
Cellulitis can appear anywhere on the body and is usually present where the bacteria first was able to enter the body, either by way of a cut, scratch or something similar. Disrupted areas of skin, such as where you've had recent surgery, cuts, puncture wounds, an ulcer, athlete's foot or dermatitis, serve as the most likely areas for bacteria to enter.
Certain types of insect or spider bites also can transmit the bacteria that start the infection. Areas of dry, flaky skin also can be an entry point for bacteria, as can swollen skin.
Although cellulitis can occur anywhere on your body, the most common location is the legs, especially near your shins and ankles. Infections on the face are more common in children and older adults.
Cellulitis may affect only your skin's surface - or cellulitis may also affect tissues underlying your skin. It can then spread to your bloodstream, lymph nodes and more. More advanced cases of cellulitis will begin to develop abscesses, blistering and ulcers in the infected area. Left untreated, the spreading infection may rapidly turn life-threatening. That's why it's important to seek immediate medical attention if cellulitis symptoms occur.
Upon healing, the infected skin showing signs of cellulitis will begin to regenerate and the blistered areas will flake off like old skin.
Causes and Relationship to MRSA
There are several types of bacteria that can lead to cellulitis. The two most common types of bacteria are streptococcus and staphylococcus. The most common bacteria that cause cellulitis in patients with a normal immune system are GABHS (Streptococcus pyogenes) and S aureus. Rarely, Gram-negative organisms, anaerobes, or fungi may cause cellulitis.
The primary difference between cellulitis and MRSA is that cellulitis may be caused by several types of bacteria. MRSA refers to staph bacteria that has developed an antibiotic resistance to several common antibiotics - especially methicillin. The incidence of the more serious MRSA staph infection is increasing.
Community-acquired MRSA causes recurrent abscesses and cellulitis. This is epidemiologically associated with production of the Panton-Valentine leukocidin, which inhibits function of neutrophils and monocytes. MRSA that produces this toxin has been identified in community outbreaks of cellulitis or abscesses.
Contracting cellulitis from MRSA is very common and the degree of seriousness depends on the patient and their overall health. The chances of catching MRSA cellulitis is very high for those who are in long term health care situations. There is a higher probability they will be constantly exposed to other patients who could be possible carriers and the medical workers who treat them.
Two Common Things That Weaken People
Age: As you age, your circulatory system becomes less effective at delivering blood - with its infection-fighting white blood cells - to some areas of your body. As a result, skin abrasions may lead to infections where your circulation is poor.
Weakened immune system: Illnesses that result in a weakening of your immune system leave you more susceptible to infections such as cellulitis. Examples of these illnesses include chronic lymphocytic leukemia and HIV infection. Taking immune-suppressing drugs, such as prednisone or cyclosporine, also can leave you more vulnerable to infections. Immune-suppressing drugs are used to treat a variety of illnesses and to help prevent rejection in people who receive organ transplants.
Treatments and drugs
Cellulitis treatment may involve a prescription oral antibiotic. You'll likely recheck with your doctor one to two days after starting an antibiotic to ensure that the infection is responding to treatment. You'll need to take the antibiotic for 10 to 14 days. In most cases, signs and symptoms of cellulitis disappear after a few days. If they don't clear up, if they're extensive or if you have a high fever, you may need to be hospitalized and receive antibiotics through your veins (intravenously).
Usually, doctors prescribe a drug that's effective against both streptococci and staphylococci. An example is cephalexin (Keflex). Your doctor will choose an antibiotic based on your circumstances. No matter what type of antibiotic your doctor prescribes, it's important that you take the medication as directed and that you finish the entire course of medication, even if you start feeling better.
Both Cellulitis and MRSA are not infections to mess around with. If you suspect you may be infected, get to proper medical attention!
Our interest is to prevent infections in the first place! There are 3 things you can do in addition to the basic health recommendations (diet, sleep, etc.).
1. Our Ultimate Foundation multi-vitamin, mineral. Any study you read will always recommend keeping your health and immune system strong. This provides a broad nutritional supplementation to help your body do so.
2. Lauricidin. If you are potentially exposed to the possibility of cellulitis, such as working in a long term care center, you should take Lauricidin daily for internal infection defense.
3. Use our Anti-bacterial Soap regularly and apply the ultimate Skin Infection Defense to any cuts, abrasions, or dry flaky skin immediately.
This will greatly help prevent or lower the intensity of infections. However, we repeat, if you suspect you may be infected, consult with a medical doctor immediately!
If you haven't seen it yet, you may want to look at our 5-Step MRSA Treatment Plan since it also treats cellulitis.