Exactly what is cellulitis? It is a common bacterial infection of the skin that can affect virtually any part of the skin, though it is most common in the lower legs and feet. While it is the skin that is most often affected, bacterial cellulitis can quickly spread to other parts of the body and also to deeper levels of the skin, tissues, lymph nodes, and even the bloodstream. If you leave an infection like this untreated, it can become life-threatening very quickly. Below are some common questions on bacterial cellulitis with focus on the foot and ankle.
What type of bacteria causes cellulitis?
Typically, cellulitis is caused by Staphylococcus and Streptococcus bacteria.
What are the symptoms of cellulitis?
Common symptoms often include: pain, redness, swelling, warmth to the site of the infection, fever, dimpling of the skin, skin that expands around the infection, blisters, and red spots on the skin that become white when pressed.
Why is cellulitis more common in the lower legs and feet?
Often, the bacteria enters the skin through cracks in the skin, cuts, or other open areas of the skin. Risk factors can include age, obesity, recent surgery, athletes foot, history of cellulitis, skin disorders, or any open cut or break in the skin. These miniscule cracks are enough to allow the bacteria to enter the skin and spread. Diabetics are also at an increased risk and should also follow all recommended foot care. Poor lower extremity circulation coupled with a decreased feeling in the foot can lead to open sores and cracks in the skin that go undetected, allowing the bacteria to enter and cause an infection.
What kind of treatment can I receive for cellulitis of the foot?
Your podiatrist will work with you and your specific case to come up with the best treatment plan. Typical treatment can include things such as antibiotics and possible hospitalization if the infection is severe. Elevation of the effective area and treating the symptoms can also be expected.
If you suspect ANY type of foot infection, make an appointment with us as soon as possible!