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Cellulitis or Skin Infection

Cellulitis Picture

Cellulitis refers to a bacterial infection of the skin. This may occur on the face, leg, arm, hand, foot, or trunk. It is often seen as a complication of an insect bite, abrasion, cut, or puncture wound.

Cellulitis is more commonly found in the diabetic, elderly, or otherwise immunocompromised patient. A closely related infection is lymphangitis which represents an infection to the lymph channels.

Symptoms of cellulitis

Common symptoms of cellulitis include redness to the skin, with localized tenderness, and swelling. Systemic symptoms may occur and include fever, nausea, or vomiting in the more extensive infection. Patients with facial cellulitis often tend to be more ill with systemic symptoms.

Treatment of cellulitis

Evaluation includes patient medical history for potential injury to that same area and physical examination. The diagnosis is confirmed through the physical examination. Blood tests (i.e. blood counts, blood culture, and blood chemistry) and an x-ray of the affected area will help the physician ascertain the severity or cause of the infection.

Treatment will include orally administered antibiotics for smaller, uncomplicated skin infections. Warm, wet compresses, elevation of the infected site, joint immobilization (splint) where appropriate, and rest will also be recommended.

Cellulitis of the hand may require hospitalization for IV antibiotics, due to the increased incidence of complications associated with infection (tendon sheath infections and abscess formation in the hand).

Facial cellulitis often requires more aggressive medical care. The advent of increasingly effective antibiotics, administered by injection, has enabled today's physician to treat many of these patients on an outpatient basis.

In most cases, Diabetics, the elderly, or the immunocompromised patient will be admitted to the hospital for treatment in most cases. All cases of cellulitis require close medical follow-up to document recovery.

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