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Cellulitis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Updated on August 21, 2014
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Some people may think that cellulitis is the official term used to describe cellulite, but the two are completely different. Cellulite is a fatty deposit that creates the appearance of cottage cheese or orange peels on your skin. However, cellulitis is a bacterium that infects your skin, and if not treated, can spread and cause serious medical problems. Learn the causes, symptoms, and treatment of this innocent-sounding but potentially dangerous condition.

Causes

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, this bacterial infection has many causes, and usually enters through some sort of skin break or injury, including the following:

  • Skin conditions, such as athlete’s foot, eczema or shingles
  • Burns, cuts, fractures, insect bites and scrapes

You are more likely to develop this condition if you have a weak immune system, diabetes, chickenpox, or shingles. In addition, as the body ages and the circulatory system is not as strong, the skin become more susceptible to cuts and scrapes, which can provide an opening for the development of this infection.

Although infection usually appears on the legs, it can also develop on the face and scalp, or the arms.

Symptoms

The symptoms of this bacterial infection include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Pain
  • Tenderness
  • Redness

Treatment

Cellulitis is treated with antibiotics, but if these fail to kill the bacteria, surgery may be needed to drain the infected tissue. If the condition is on the arms or legs, keep them elevated and wrapped in wet sterile bandages as much as possible.

The University of Maryland also notes that certain nutrients – such as supplements of vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, and bromelain - can strengthen the immune system and help the skin to repair itself. In addition, the flavonoids found in citrus fruits, blueberries, and grapes can help reduce the risk of developing the bacterial condition.

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