If you have diabetes, be extra careful of your skin. Infections are more common and when blood glucose is high, it can potentially feed the infection. Cellulitis is an infection found in skin and tissues that are found directly under the skin. It can be caused by many types of bacteria including streptoccus, staphylococcus and methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). People that have diabetes are at a higher risk of developing cellulitis, which can spread rapidly.
Some people confuse cellulite with cellulitis. Cellulite is composed of fat that pushes up against connective tissue making the skin pucker. It is not harmful. Cellulitis is different; it is an infection that can be very harmful.
Any infection causes an increase in blood glucose in everyone. The extra glucose is released to help fight the infection. In non-diabetics, the body will also release extra insulin to handle the extra glucose. When a person has diabetes, this extra rise in the glucose can cause problems. Diabetes can also cause the skin to be susceptible to bacteria by slowing blood flow.
What are the signs and symptoms of cellulitis?
The most identifiable signs of cellulitis are pain and tenderness, swelling, redness and warmth over an area of skin. The number of white blood cells increase to help fight the infection. The area becomes swollen. Fever and chills may also develop. The skin may develop blisters (but not always).
In adults, cellulitis develops most often in the legs and feet. In children it is frequently seen on the head and neck. It can develop anywhere on the body but frequently at the site of wounds, burns, insect or animal bites or a surgical incisions. It can occur anywhere that the skin has been punctured or injured. This can include an injury that may form from fungal infections such as “athletes’ feet”. Cellulitis usually is only on one side of the body (example one leg).
How does cellulitis develop?
Bacteria usually enters the body through the break in the skin. This break can be of any size. In some cases of cellulitis, the break in the skin cannot be found. Sometimes in cases where athlete’s foot is present, the break may be from the fungus in the foot. The cellulitis may develop from the bacteria that enters the break in the skin at the foot level which may travel to the lower leg. The area has infection present and can spread very rapidly.
What can I do to prevent cellulitis?
- Take care of your skin and take precautions to prevent cuts and wounds.
- Inspect your feet and other problem areas daily.
- See a podiatrist or other qualified foot care professional for recommendations and help to acquire shoes and footwear that fit. Ask what you should wear at the beach or pool, etc.
What should I do if I suspect I have cellulitis?
Call your doctor or healthcare professional immediately who will examine the area to determine the extent of the cellulitis and decide on the best treatment. he doctor may order antibiotics medications that you take by mouth. Many cases of cellulitis need intravenous antibiotics. A person may need to be admitted to the hospital for this. In the hospital, the doctor would have access to other experts for consultation.