Cellulitis - What it is and how to survive it

Jack Goblin By Jack Goblin, 30th Sep 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Health>General Health>Diseases & Infections

Cellulitis is a painful and serious infection. Presented is information and advice from someone who has lived though several attacks and knows more about it that he'd like.

An Unpleasant Disease

Cellulitis is a runaway bacterial infection (usually staph or strep) occurring just under the skin. It usually develops on the lower legs or face, although it can show up in other places, especially on children. It manifests as an area of skin that becomes inflamed - red, hot, swollen, and tender - usually accompanied with fever, nausea, and feelings of general weakness and discomfort. If untreated the inflammation can spread, the skin can blister, and it can even be fatal if the infection gets into the bloodsteam. Indeed, in the days before antibiotics, if treatments such as elevating the affected part and applying warm compresses didn't work, it often came down to amputation or death. Fortunately antibiotics enable us to avoid such desperate choices these days. But it is still nothing to fool around with. This link provides further details on its causes, symptoms, and treatment. Link

Now, as to practical advice. As I've had way more cellulitis infections than I can count in both legs, let me share what I've learned about dealing with this condition. And since my legs have been the source of my problems, what follows is naturally leg-centric.

Prevention

Walk. Exercise. Move around. Increased circulation of blood in your legs is the best preventative possible. Good blood flow will strengthen the tissues in your legs and bring white blood cells in large numbers to the site of any beginning bacterial infection, wiping it out before it can get out of control.

Elevate the foot of your bed slightly. This will cause blood to more easily drain out of your legs faster while you sleep. Evey little bit helps.

Examine legs and feet often. Treat immediately any injuries or cuts; any break in the skin, even those caused by athlete's foot, can lead to a infection. Those with diabetes, fluid build up in the legs, and/or skin problems are at increased risk.

Cure

If an attack starts, get to a doctor or ER, especially if fever sets in and your temperature begins to spike. Severe attacks may require hospitalization, both so they can give you IVs of antibiotics and so they can monitor your condition in case things go bad.

If it's not that severe they may let you return or stay home and take oral antibiotics. What follows are suggestions for caring for yourself or some one suffering through a cellulitis attack.

Care

Take a pen or marker and draw along the borders of the inflammation. This will tell you if it's expanding or shrinking.

The cellulitis sufferer is going to be pretty immobile, both because of the need to rest and because walking will be difficult. Set up a tray of necessary supplies beside the sickbed or couch: Water bottle, medication, clock, timer, phone, notepad and pencil, snacks, and thermometer. Use the clock to make sure medication is taken at the right times. And the notepad to write down when it is taken. That may sound excessive but if you're taking care of yourself a severe cellulitis attack can interfere with your thought processes, and you don't want to OD or miss a dose.

You can also write down your temperature in the notebook to track what it's doing over time. Monitor a fever closely, like every half hour (that's what the timer is for, to remind you). If it goes above 102, then it's doctor or emergency room time again. If you start having trouble breathing or chest pains, don't bother with the ER, use the phone to call an ambulance IMMEDIATELY. If the infection starts moving into your bloodstream or a clot breaks loose and reaches your heart or lungs, you won't have much time.

You'll want to include a bottle of aspirin or other pain killer on the tray, because cellulitis hurts worse than you might believe.

Elevate your leg. The swelling will be reducing your blood flow and also the ability of your lymphatic system to drain away excess fluid. Make gravity work for you by laying down, putting your leg above the level of your heart, and letting things flow downhill.

Keep your leg warm. The skin is already hot, but added heat will help your immune system fight the infection. Loosely wrap the leg in cloth for insulation, put a heating pad or two or three around it, set for MODERATE heat (you don't dare risk a burn at this point) and lie back. Move your leg around occasionally to prevent compression sores and also to help squeeze fluid out. If you are like me, bending the knee of the infected leg will become more difficult and painful as the infection progresses and the lower leg stiffens, but do it - gently - anyway. Flexing will promote circulation and keep the knee loose. Which you'll need if you're going to walk or crawl to the bathroom

Speaking of which, if possible put a pair of crutches by the bed. Walking on the infected leg is going to be an unpleasant experience, and if you can shift the weight to the other leg and the crutches that will be MUCH better.

Don't be a hero. Cellulitis WILL drain the strength out of you. Don't try to be tougher than it is. Stay on your back and rest until the infection starts going down and you can begin recovering. Drink lots of fluid (even if that results in you having to hobble to the bathroom more often), eat as your appetite allows, stay warm and quiet, and give your body a chance to devote all its energy to fighting those germs.

As the attack eases, the skin that was involved will be extremely sensitive and fragile, as if it had just been burned. Which is pretty near the case. Spraying with topical analgesics and antiseptics will ease the pain and risk of re-infection Cover with clean, dry cloth and monitor closely.

Afterwards

Keep in mind, once you've had a cellulitis attack it's like frostbite; the tissues will be damaged and you'll be at increased risk of another. Increase your preventative measures.


Good luck

Tags

Antibiotic, Bacterial Infection, Cellulitis, Infection, Inflammation, Leg, Staph, Strep

Meet the author

author avatar Jack Goblin
Was born. Haven't died yet. Don't intend to anytime soon.

Thank you much for reading my articles. I hope they brought you pleasure and enlightenment. :)

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Comments

author avatar Sergiu
5th May 2014 (#)

My wife had problems with cellulite, saying he had to get over this problem. After long trials with different medicines and products that more or praised, someone recommended me a product and I recommend it as on, which turned out to be "miraculous". In two months his wife escaped the ugly and unsightly cellulite and now happily wear skirts that likes so much.
I do not want to advertise anything because my goal is to help people who are in the situation where we've been, but if someone wants to get rid of cellulite, I recommend the product that we have used and was excellent. We've got the address below:

http://mhlnk.com/5F5D7166

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