Is Cellulitis Dangerous?

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Cellulitis is a potentially life-threatening bacterial infection of the skin. Cellulitis most commonly affects children and older adults. Because untreated cellulitis can be fatal, it is important to see a doctor immediately if you have symptoms of infection.

Cellulitis Explained

  • Cellulitis most commonly infects the top layers of skin. Typically, cellulitis infections are limited to the hands, arms, face and legs. However, cellulitis can appear anywhere on the body.

Cause Of Cellulitis

  • Cellulitis is caused when certain types of bacteria enter through open skin such as wounds and abrasions. The two types of bacteria responsible for cellulitis are Streptococcus and Staphylococcus.

Symptoms Of Cellulitis Infection

  • Skin that has developed cellulitis often appears swollen and red. The skin will also be warm and tender to the touch. These symptoms are often accompanied by a fever.

Complications

  • If left untreated, cellulitis infection can spread to the deeper layers of skin. When cellulitis is present deep in the skin, the bacteria that cause the disease can enter the bloodstream and infect the lymph nodes and vital organs, a life threatening condition.

More Complications

  • In rare cases, untreated or treatment resistant cellulitis can infect the sheath of deep tissues which support the skin. When this happens, the skin is literally eaten away and dissolved from the inside out. This is the type of cellulitis infection often referred to as "flesh eating bacteria."

Minimizing The Risk Of Cellulitis

  • To minimize the risk of cellulitis, dressings on surgical and other wounds should be changed regularly. Furthermore, clean cuts and abrasions as soon as possible after they happen and apply antibiotic ointment.

References

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