Obesity Skin Problems
Obesity and Skin Problems: Cellulitis Skin Infection
Cellulitis is a spreading bacterial infection of the skin and tissues beneath the skin. Cellulitis usually begins as a small area of tenderness, swelling, and redness. As this red area begins to enlarge, the person may develop a fever — sometimes with chills and sweats — and swollen lymph nodes (“swollen glands”) near the area of infected skin.
Cellulitis is a very serious bacterial infection of the skin and underlying fat tissue. This condition is not to be confused with cellulite, a cosmetic condition where unattractive lumps of fat is observed in the thighs, stomach, and buttock areas.
Unlike impetigo, which is a very superficial skin infection, cellulitis refers to an infection also involving the skin’s deeper layers: the dermis and subcutaneous tissue. The main bacteria involved in cellulitis are Streptococcus and Staphylococcus (“staph”), the same bacteria that cause many cases of impetigo. MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staph aureus ) can also cause cellulitis. Sometimes, other bacteria (for example, Hemophilus influenzae , Pneumococcus , and Clostridium species) may cause cellulitis as well.
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What are risk factors for cellulitis?
Some times cellulitis appears in areas where the skin has broken open, such as the skin near ulcers or surgical wounds. Many times, however, cellulitis occurs where there has been no break in the skin at all, such as with chronic leg swelling.
People who have diabetes or conditions that compromise the function of the immune system (for example, HIV / AIDS or those receiving chemotherapy or drugs that depress the immune system) are particularly prone to developing cellulitis.
Conditions that reduce the circulation of blood in the veins or that reduce circulation of the lymphatic fluid (such as venous insufficiency, obesity, pregnancy, or surgeries) also increase the risk of developing cellulitis.
Symptoms of Cellulitis
The symptoms of cellulitis include:
- Red, swollen skin
- Warm or hot area in the skin
- Pain and tenderness
- Orange-peel look of the skin
- Fever and chills
- May or may not be accompanied by headaches
Cellulitis is often accompanied by other disorders, such as chickenpox, varicose veins, leg ulcers, and chronic venous insufficiency. It can also occur after skin injury or during healing of a surgical wound.
What causes cellulitis?
The majority of cellulitis infections are caused by either staph ( Staphylococcus ) or strep ( Streptococcus ) bacteria.
Staph ( Staphylococcus aureus ) is the most common bacteria that causes cellulitis. There is a growing incidence of community-acquired infections due to methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA), a particularly dangerous form of this bacteria that is resistant to many antibiotics and is more difficult to treat.
Strep is also a common cause of cellulitis. A form of rather superficial cellulitis caused by strep is called erysipelas; it is characterized by spreading hot, bright red circumscribed area on the skin with a sharp raised border. The so-called “flesh-eating bacteria” are, in fact, also a strain of strep that can sometimes rapidly destroy tissues.
Cellulitis can be caused by many other types of bacteria. In children under 6 years of age, H. flu ( Hemophilus influenzae ) bacteria can cause cellulitis, especially on the face, arms, and upper torso. Cellulitis from a dog or cat bite or scratch may be caused by the Pasteurella multocida bacteria, which has a very short incubation period of only four to 24 hours. Aeromonas hydrophilia , Vibrio vulnificus , and other bacteria are causes of cellulitis that develops after exposure to freshwater or seawater. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is another type of bacteria that can cause cellulitis, typically after a puncture wound.