What is it?
A cellulitis is an infection of the soft tissue. This type of infection is much different from osteomyelitis, which is an infection of the bone. A cellulitis of the foot or lower leg is usually red, hot, swollen, and tender. A classic description of cellulitis is "red streaking" leading up the foot or leg. Patients that are immunocompromized or have weak immune systems are more likely to suffer from cellulitic episodes. A cellulitic foot or leg can be very painful and can cause the patient a great deal of disability. If a cellulitis is not properly and aggressively treated, the infection may spread quickly through the surrounding tissues and become even more serious requiring more aggressive treatment.
What causes it?
A cellulitic infection can be caused by a number of factors. A "streptococcus" organism is the most common cause of cellulitis in the lower extremity. In diabetics we many times see mixed infections causing cellulites. These means that there are more than just one organism. Some patients are more susceptible to cellulitic infections and have frequent flare-ups of this localized soft tissue involvement. In cases of recurrent cellulitic episodes, the lymph nodes can become scarred from the infection and will become activated when the patient suffers from a stressful or traumatic event. A small break in the skin, an ulceration, or an infected toenail may lead to cellulitis. Poor hygiene may also predispose one to a cellulitic infection as well as diabetes mellitus.
What to do next:
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