When is Cellulitis an Emergency?

When is Cellulitis an Emergency?

Cellulitis Emergency: What you Need to know, When to go to the ER

Cellulitis is a skin disease, a bacterial skin infection of the skin and soft tissues. Cellulitis is usually caused by staphylococci (“staph”) or streptococci (“strep”) bacteria that live on the skin or inner surface of the nose or mouth.

Cellulitis emergency happens when bacteria manages to get under the skin and spread to the tissues beneath, cellulitis can develop. The bacteria responsible are Streptococcus or Staphylococcus.

In most cases, Cellulitis Emergency is not a serious, life-threatening infections disease, and as a bacterial skin infection, is easily treated with antibiotics. Cellulitis Emergency does, however, need treating, since if you leave it to its own devices it will probably get worse.

If you suspect a cellulitis emergency you should go and see your doctor as soon as possible to avoid potential complications. Keep an eye on the affected area from day to day as it can spread rapidly, and if you notice any worsening or spreading of the cellulitus signs or symptoms, seek medical care.

What Is Cellulitis?

Cellulitis is a common infection of the skin and the soft tissues underneath. It happens when bacteria enter a break in the skin and spread. The result is an infection, which may cause swelling, redness, pain, or warmth.

You’re at risk if you have:

  • Trauma to the skin
  • Diabetes
  • Circulatory problems, such as not enough blood flow to your arms and legs, poor drainage of your veins or lymphatic system, or varicose veins -- twisted, enlarged veins near the surface of the skin
  • Liver disease like chronic hepatitis or cirrhosis
  • Skin disorders such as eczema, psoriasis, or infectious diseases that cause sores, like chickenpox

Cellulitis Causes

Things that cause cellulitis include:

  • Injuries that tear the skin
  • Infections after surgery
  • Long-term skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis
  • Foreign objects in the skin
  • Bone infections underneath the skin. (An example is a long-standing, open wound that is deep enough to expose the bone to bacteria.)

Cellulitis Symptoms

Cellulitis can appear on almost any part of the body. It usually shows up on damaged skin such as inflamed wounds, dirty cuts, and areas with poor circulation. It needs to be treated by a doctor.

Common symptoms include:

  • Redness
  • Red streaks
  • Swelling
  • Warmth
  • Pain or tenderness
  • Leaking of yellow, clear fluid or pus

Cellulitis Diagnosis

Cellulitis emergency diagnosis is normally a simple matter for your doctor, based on a physical exam and your medical history.

Occasionally the doctor may request some blood work or blood tests if he or she suspects infection has passed into the bloodstream, or to check your white blood cell count. If a foreign object is suspected, the doctor may also order an x-ray. In some instances, fluid may be taken from the affected area then sent to the lab for testing.

Cellulitis Treatment

Cellulitis emergency is normally treated with antibiotics you can take orally for a week to ten days. If antibiotics are prescribed for you, make sure you take the entire course of treatment even if the infection seems to be getting better after a few days. In rare cases stronger antibiotics may be needed and these are generally given in hospital intravenously (although sometimes this can be administered at home).

During your recovery at home, you should get plenty of rest so the body can concentrate on fighting the infection. If you can keep the area of infection raised, this will help ease swelling, improve drainage and reduce any pain. Over-the-counter pain relievers may also help reduce inflammation or fevers.

Cellulitis Prevention

Sensible precautions against accidental injuries are the first guard against cellulitis. For instance, taking care when using knives or other sharp instruments, and not going barefoot in hazardous areas such as on the beach or in the forest. Cellulitis is also easily spread from skin to skin contact or by touching infected surfaces.

Simple precautions can help reduce the chances of infection spreading:

  • Daily showering or bathing
  • Frequent hand washing
  • Keeping wounds covered
  • Not sharing towels with others
  • Regularly changing and washing bed linen

Go to the emergency room if you have any of these symptoms:

There are some instances when cellulitis needs urgent emergency room treatment. If you notice any of the following symptoms, please treat them seriously and get urgent medical care:

  • High fever or chills
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Enlarging or hardening of the reddened area
  • Increased pain
  • Numbness when you touch the area
  • Other medical problems that may be affected by even a minor infection

If you are experiencing above symptoms of cellulitis, it is time to visit a nearby emergency room (ER) for treatment.

Visit one of our ER of Texas emergency room closer to you. Our board-certified physicians will get you taken care of within the comforts of our fully-stocked facility. We accept walk-ins – No appointment is needed.