If you notice sudden changes in your skin, you could have an infection called cellulitis. This is a common condition that brings many men and women to the care of Saif Fatteh, MD, of Lansing Podiatry & Dermatology in Mt. Pleasant and East Lansing, Michigan. Prompt treatment can help you avoid serious complications, so be sure to book a diagnostic exam any time you experience sudden changes in your skin. You can set up a visit online or over the phone, and same-day appointments are often available.
What is cellulitis?
Cellulitis is a common bacterial skin infection that is easily treated if caught in the early stages but can become life-threatening if left untreated. The infection is caused by streptococcus and staphylococcus bacteria. Researchers are noting an increase in bacterial strains that are resistant to antibiotics, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, which may complicate the treatment of cellulitis.
You can develop cellulitis anywhere on your body, but the most common location is in your lower legs. Symptoms usually only occur on one side of your body, and might include:
Sensation of warmth
If you have a sudden rash that seems to be changing rapidly call to book a same-day appointment to prevent the infection from spreading.
Am I at risk for cellulitis?
Anyone can develop cellulitis, but there are certain risk factors that increase your chances of an infection. These include:
Compromised immune system
Scrapes, cuts, burns, or any openings in your skin
Skin conditions like eczema, shingles, or athlete’s foot
Chronic swelling in your arms or legs
Previous history of cellulitis
Recurring cellulitis infections can cause problems with your lymphatic system, which can lead to chronic inflammation in one or more limbs.
How is cellulitis treated?
There are steps you can take to prevent cellulitis and avoid the need for treatment. Any time the surface of your skin is breached, take immediate steps to clean the area and cover the wound with a bandage. Wash the site daily with soap and water, and use an over-the-counter ointment to reduce the risk of infection.
If you have diabetes or another condition that weakens your immune system you should develop a daily routine of checking your skin for injury and wearing protective gloves and footwear. Keeping your fingernails and toenails carefully trimmed can reduce your risk of infections.
Most cases of cellulitis respond well to a course of antibiotics. If your symptoms don’t clear up after a few days, let Dr. Fatteh know. You might need to be briefly hospitalized to receive intravenous antibiotics.
As you wait for your treatment to take effect, you might find a degree of relief by placing a cool, damp cloth over the area and elevating the affected limb. Over-the-counter pain medications can reduce discomfort.
If you’re concerned about cellulitis or other common skin issues like boils, viral infections, or abscesses, contact Dr. Fatteh to book a thorough diagnostic exam. You can set up a visit online or over the phone.