Cellulitis, the Dangerously Common Skin Infection You Need to Know

In recent years, many of us have probably heard of MRSA, the bacterial skin infection that can spread quickly in close quarters, like prisons, hospitals, and locker rooms. However, you might not have heard of cellulitis, a bacterial skin infection that can be just as serious as MRSA.

If you have an open wound or some kind of break in your skin, bacteria can get in there and wreak havoc. This can cause anything from a mild infection to cellulitis.

When you think of skin infections, you might think of rashes or itchiness. However, the sensations you should associate most with cellulitis are warmth and redness. Affected areas tend to look and be swollen and tender. The area(s) might be painful as well. Cellulitis tends to affect the lower regions of the body most, like the legs, but it can strike anywhere.

If you’ve got a rash that looks or behaves like this, you should see your doctor as soon as possible, because cellulitis can spread quickly throughout the body. However, if you’ve got a red rash and a fever, you need emergency treatment. Cellulitis can turn deadly if left untreated.

Risk factors for cellulitis include other bacterial skin infections like MRSA. Basically, if you’ve already got MRSA, you’re vulnerable to developing other infections. Other conditions that weaken your immune system, like diabetes and HIV, can also make it easy for cellulitis to develop.

However, as we’ve discussed, all it takes is a little opening. Any cut or scrape can be a pathway to cellulitis. That’s not to make you panic, but to remind you to practice good wound care. Keep any cuts or scrapes clean and cover them with an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment. In addition, keep the wound covered with a bandage, which you change regularly. Finally, watch your injury to make sure it is healing and not getting worse, especially getting infected.