About Cellulitis in Lower Leg

Cellulitis is a common bacterial infection that can become serious and spread into a life-threatening condition if not treated. Though not ‘directly’ infectious, it is possible to become exposed to the bacteria if an open wound or cut on a healthy person is put into direct contact with an open wound or cut on an infected person. This risk for infection, however, is low.

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms commonly attributed to cellulitis include:

  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Tenderness
  • Hotness or warmth (felt on affected areas)

Though the infection itself spreads through the lower layer of skin (dermis), the outer layer of skin (epidermis) is where the results of the infection appear.

Risks

There are several things that contribute to a patient’s risk factor for getting cellulitis. These factors include aging and a weakened immune system. Under “Related Conditions” is a listing of medical conditions that can also increase a patient’s risk.

Related Conditions

There are multiple conditions that can be aggravated by or accompanied by cellulitis. These conditions include, but are not limited to:

  • Diabetes
  • Neuropathy
  • Eczema
  • Athlete’s Foot
  • Chronic lymphedema

Diagnosis

The diagnosis of cellulitis in lower leg could be done with a combination of methods, the primary one being noting the appearance of the skin. Verification can be obtained through blood testing or a wound culture.

Treatment

Cellulitis is commonly treated with oral antibiotics. The treatment can provide quick relief, even though the infection is not cured. It is critical that those with cellulitis complete their treatment as directed in order to ensure the bacteria is eradicated and does not spread, thus worsening his/her condition.

Recurrence

Cellulitis can be recurrent under certain conditions. Since it is a bacterial infection, a break in the skin, whether by wound or intention (such as a piercing) can provide entry to the bacteria. Medical conditions that cause skin to blister or break also can provide entry points for the infection to begin. Other risks for recurrence of cellulitis in lower leg include having poor circulation or having a wear immune system.

Resources:

Limb Preservation Disease Referral Guide. Madigan Army Medical Center. https://www.mamc.amedd.army.mil/referral/guidelines/limb_cellulitis_le.htm

Cellulitis. Mayo Clinic Staff. January 15, 2008. https://www.mayoclinic.com/health/cellulitis/DS00450