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What is a cellulitis infection and how to identify it

Cellulitis infection, also known as bacterial cellulitis, happens when bacteria enters the skin, infecting the deeper layers and causing symptoms such as intense redness, pain and swelling.

Unlike popular cellulite, a cellulitis infection can cause serious complications such as septicemia, which is the general infection of the body, or even death, if not properly treated.

This way, whenever there is a suspicion of a skin infection, it is very important to go to the emergency room to make the diagnosis and start the appropriate treatment, which is usually done with the use of antibiotics.

Photos of cellulitis infection

What is a cellulitis infection and how to identify it
What is a cellulitis infection and how to identify it

Main symptoms

Some of the symptoms that help identify cellulitis infection include:

  • Severe redness on the skin;
  • Swelling and pain on the skin;
  • Very hot skin;
  • Fever above 38ºC.

These symptoms can also be a sign of other types of skin infection, especially erysipelas, which is a disease that affects the most superficial layers of the skin. That is why, you should consult a dermatologist to find out the correct cause, in order to start the best treatment.

Possible causes

A cellulitis infection occurs when Staphylococcus or Streptococcus bacteria penetrates the skin. Therefore, this type of infection is more common in people with surgical wounds or cuts and stings that have not been properly treated.

In addition, people with skin problems that can cause cuts, such as eczema, dermatitis or ringworm, are also at increased risk of developing a cellulitis infection, as well as people with weakened immune systems or diabetes, for example.

Is cellulitis infection contagious?

In healthy people, a cellulitis infection is not contagious, as it does not easily get from one person to another. However, if someone has a wound or skin disease, such as dermatitis, for example, and comes into direct contact with the area affected by the cellulitis, there is a higher risk of the bacteria penetrating the skin and causing a cellulitis infection.

How to confirm diagnosis

In most cases, a cellulitis infection is diagnosed by the dermatologist through observation of the symptoms, but in some cases the doctor may also request a blood test or a laboratory evaluation of an affected piece of skin to confirm the type of bacteria and prescribe the most appropriate antibiotic.

How is the treatment done

Treatment for cellulitis infection is usually started with the use of oral antibiotics such as Amoxicillin or Cephalexin for 10 to 21 days. During this time it is advised to take all the pills at the time indicated by the dermatologist, as well as observing the evolution of the redness in the skin. If the redness increases or another symptom worsens, it is very important to return to the hospital, as the prescribed antibiotic may not be having the expected effect, needing to be changed.

In addition, your doctor may prescribe painkillers, such as Paracetamol or Dipyrone, to relieve symptoms during treatment.

Symptoms usually get better within 10 days of starting the antibiotics but if the symptoms worsen it may be necessary to change the antibiotic or stay in the hospital to do the treatment directly into the vein and prevent the infection from spreading throughout the body.

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