Learn Some Facts About Cellulitis In Lower Leg

Because diabetes compromises immune system functioning, cellulitis in lower leg can be problematic for diabetics who experience frequent and slow-healing bacterial infections. Cellulitis, not be confused with “cellulite” which is a dimpling of the skin caused by fat deposits, is severe inflammation of the skin, specifically the connective tissue, which affects the subcutaneous and external skin layers. While cellulitis can occur on skin covering any part of the body, it most frequently inflames the lower legs, feet and the face.

Cellulitis in Lower LegBacterial infections of the skin on the lower leg where previous burns, insect bites, animal bites, blisters or any other wound has occurred, cause cellulitis in lower leg. Cellulitis has also been known to appear where intravenous openings were made but had been fully healed for some time. Because cellulitis can attack such old wounds, a break in the skin does not need to be seen for vulnerable areas to be compromised by bacterial cellulitis.

Although Staphylococcus and Group A Streptococcus are microorganisms normally found on the skin, it is these two types of bacteria that induce cellulitis. While they exist without harming us on the outside of our skin, once they enter through an open wound or even a tiny crack in the skin, an infection can develop, causing cellulitis in lower leg or face.

Diabetics experience poor control of glucose and insulin levels, which permits rapid proliferation of bacteria infecting tissues with cellulitis. Bacteria thrive in glucose-rich environments, especially when insufficient amounts of disease-fighting white blood cells exist. In addition to being prone to cellulitis in the legs, diabetics are also vulnerable to foot cellulitis and foot ulcers. This is due to the prevalence of impaired, lower-body circulation in many people with diabetes.

Symptoms of a cellulitis infection include:

  • Swelling and pain in the infected area
  • Redness, rash and tenderness
  • Chills, sweating and fever if the infection has spread beyond the initial site
  • Swelling of lymph nodes
  • Red streaks extending up or down the leg
  • Clear or yellow drainage from the infection
  • Aching muscles

Initially, someone affected by cellulitis may think it is a case of shingles or dermatitis because the symptoms are similar, especially the redness, tenderness and swelling aspect of the condition. However, when a diabetic suffers from these symptoms, it is recommended they visit their physician to rule out the possibility of cellulitis.

The doctor might also order blood tests, ultrasounds and cultures to make sure it is not a more severe medical condition called deep vein thrombosis, which can be dangerous to diabetics. A diagnosis of deep vein thrombosis means a blood clot exists deep in the leg’s vein. These clots have the ability to travel through veins until they reach the brain, where strokes can occur if the clot is not dissolved in time.

Treatment for Cellulitis

Cellulitis in Lower LegA variety of treatments are used to alleviate cellulitis in lower leg, such as:

  • Debriding the area to clear away any dead tissue
  • Intravenous or oral administration of antibiotics, depending on the severity of the infection
  • Pain relief medication if needed
  • Elevating the infected leg

Due to impaired immune system functioning in diabetics, cellulitis often recurs. However, recurrence is more common in those who suffer from circulatory issues or problems with their lymphatic system, which further inhibits the ability of white blood cells to fight the infection. If a diabetic who does not suffer from complications develops cellulitis, they generally only need a regimen of antibiotics to eliminate the infection and prevent recurrence.

Reducing the risk of developing cellulitis in lower leg involves maintaining personal hygiene, avoid walking barefoot or wearing shorts in dense areas such as woods, where the skin could be cut or scratched and keeping skin moisturized so excessive dryness does not cause the skin to crack or split.



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