Cellulitis, What Is It, and How It Can Be Treated
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Cellulitis, What Is It, and How It Can Be Treated

How to determine if you have cellulitis. A physician may ask you to describe your dermatological condition and its location, to better diagnose your skin condition such as cellulitis.

 What is cellulitis?

Cellulitis is an infection of the skin that spreads, sometimes even under the skin. Characterized by swelling and tenderness, the condition is usually caused by a streptococcal infection or staphylococcal infection of a wound. Other causes may include human or animal bites, or injuries that occur in water.

What are the symptoms of cellulitis?

Cellulitis most often affects the legs. The first sign is usually a small injury or infection between the toes. The following are the most common symptoms of cellulitis. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently:

  • swelling
  • tenderness
  • warm skin
  • bruising
  • blisters
  • fever
  • headache

The symptoms of cellulitis may resemble other dermatological conditions. Consult a doctor for diagnosis.

How is cellulitis diagnosed?

Diagnosis is usually made after a complete medical history and physical examination. Blood and skin samples may be taken to help positively identify the bacteria in the laboratory.

Treatment for cellulitis:

Specific treatment for cellulitis will be determined by your doctor based on:

  • your age, overall health, and medical history
  • extent of the condition
  • your tolerance for specific medication, procedures, or therapies
  • expectation for the course of the condition
  • your opinion or preference

Immediate treatment can help prevent the spread of cellulitis. Treatment may include:

  • penicillin
  • oral antibiotics
  • elevating the legs
  • cool, wet dressings on the infection site

The skin is the largest organ of the body, weighing approximately six pounds. Being the outer protective covering of the body, and being exposed to the environment, the skin is very vulnerable to growths, rashes, discolorations, cysts, burns, injuries, infections, and other disorders.

Dermatology is the study of skin diseases and conditions. A dermatologist treats disorders related to the skin, hair, and nails. So if you think you have cellulitis, you may want to see a professional dermatologist. A dermatologist is a physician who has completed medical school, a year of hospital residency, and at least three more years of intensive medical training.

Other physicians and specialist, also part of the treatment team, are involved in the prevention and treatment of skin disorders. Make sure you get more than one opinion when you have a concern about your skin condition.

Skin Tests

Skin tests can help isolate a specific substance that may be causing a reaction in the skin, or help to diagnose specific diseases.

What are the most common skin tests?

  • Patch Testing- Patch tests are often used to help diagnose allergies. Certain known irritating substances are applied to the skin with adhesive patches and left there for a period of time. The skin is then examined for any reaction after the patches are removed.
  • Skin Biopsy - A skin biopsy is the removal of some diseased skin for laboratory analysis. The sample of skin may be removed with a scalpel or curette, after a local anesthetic is administered. Skin biopsies are often performed to diagnose skin cancer or other skin disorders.
  • Culture - Drainage from lesions or portions of skin, hair, or nails ma be cultured in the laboratory to detect organisms that may be causing an infection.

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