You may think that cellulitis may have something to do with cellulite — the unsightly, lumpy marks found in the buttocks and thighs — but don’t be confused: Cellulitis and cellulite are actually very different skin ailments. Of the two, cellulitis is the more dangerous condition in that it is a serious infection, while cellulite is completely benign. So what exactly is cellulitis and how do you become predisposed to this illness?
A Brief Overview of Cellulitis
A potentially serious bacterial infection, cellulitis is a disease that affects the dermis (deep layers) and subcutaneous tissues (the fatty and soft layers) underneath your skin. Cellulitis occurs when pathogenic bacteria manage to infiltrate your broken skin.
The usual symptoms of cellulitis begin with a small painful area that typically spreads to the surrounding tissues. Redness, swelling and warmth may also manifest, along with fever, blisters and, in some cases, swollen lymph nodes. These symptoms may occur gradually or appear all at once. Surprisingly, itching is not a common symptom of this illness.
Cellulitis can be caused by different bacteria, but strep (Streptococcus) or staph (Staphylococcus) bacteria are the most common causes of this skin infection.1 However, there are other bacteria strains that can lead to this ailment. For example, Pasteurella multocida is a cellulitis-causing bacteria strain that usually comes from animal bites. In some instances, fungi may also lead to cellulitis.2
There are numerous types of cellulitis, and they are classified according to the part of the body that they affect. The most common types are known as cellulitis of the extremities, which affects the legs, arms, hands and feet. Nevertheless, the eyes, face and even the anal region may be prone to cellulitis.
Almost anyone can be at risk for cellulitis. Even children are prone to getting this illness, with preseptal cellulitis (infection of the eyelid and surrounding skin) being the most common type in this age group (particularly those ages 18 months and below).3 People who are immunocompromised, diabetic or who have poor blood circulation have a higher risk of getting this type of infection as well.
Stop Cellulitis Before It's Too Late!
Cellulitis is actually one of the most common reasons people are admitted to hospitals' infectious diseases units.4 It is not a rare condition, and it is not contagious. However, the bacteria that may bring on this ailment can be passed on from one person to another, so extreme caution is necessary.
Keep in mind that if left untreated, cellulitis may lead to several life-threatening conditions. For example, necrotizing fasciitis, a debilitating and deadly disease, may actually be caused by cellulitis. Therefore, it is absolutely important to educate yourself about this damaging illness.
Check out these pages and learn everything you need to know about cellulitis - its symptoms, causes, risk factors and what to do if you develop this illness. Arm yourself with this information before it's too late!