Cellulitis on Feet, Ankle, Big Toe, Thigh and Inner Thigh: Symptoms, Treatment

The feet, one of the ideal areas for a bacterial infestation, devoid as they are of light and fresh air and spending most of their existence wrapped in socks and shoved into shoes. Cellulitis on the feet and lower limbs often develops as an appendage to another infection which may be bacterial but could be fungus-based or indeed a virus. Those who suffer inadequate circulation to their extremities are ill-protected to resist infection in the first instance and may succumb to a more prolonged problem as a result. These groups include the elderly and sufferers of Class 2 Diabetes who will have a predisposition to infections on the feet and may require longer-term antibiotic support to eliminate the infection.

Cellulitis on the feet

Causes of this vary but include incidences such as a pre-existing opening in the skin, for example, a cracked heel, fungal lesions caused by Athlete’s Foot, even something as trivial as a blister inflicted by ill-fitting or new shoes which rub.

Cellulitis on the feet will present as congested, raised, red skin which will be sore if not painful. Diagnosis is made on clinical signs and an analysis of the symptoms. Treatment is antibiotic based aimed at removing the infection. But clear efforts will be made to detect any intrinsic issues which might not be initially apparent.

Could this be Cellulitis on your big toe?

Not the first site that would spring to mind for an outbreak of cellulitis but lack of cleanliness post surgery for ingrowing toenails – the big toe is the favourite candidate to ingrow – or amateur attempts to deal with a toenail problem can cause a resultant cellulitis infection. Ingrowing toenail surgery is horribly painful and pretty unpleasant. Many people try to avoid it with their own DIY attempts at relieving pressure on the big toe from the ingrowing nail. Unfortunately, unless you seek the guidance of an experienced podiatrist or chiropodist, you likely will only temporarily alleviate the problem plus your clumsy and doubtless non-sterile attempts may do nothing more than introduce infection. The toenail will actually pierce the flesh providing the perfect entry point for regular bacteria hosted by our skin resulting in cellulitis of the big toe in addition to an ingrowing nail.

Cellulitis of the ankle

Superficial skin infections are surprisingly common post-operatively following clinical procedures on the ankle joint. As a consequence, nursing teams are prepared for this as a cellulitis infection allowed to progress unabated could cause the patient serious problems if it penetrated deeper towards the bone. Poor circulation in the legs can give rise to red, scaly skin on the shin and ankle. This is called ‘stasis dermatitis’ and can be confused with the early stages of cellulitis of the ankle. These pictures quite clearly emphasise the distinction. A pressure or bedsore in the inert can develop into an abrasion or ulcer which provides the perfect hosting ground for further infection. Early swelling can be a good indicator of cellulitis particularly if there is no foregoing clinical event like an operation as an obvious point of causation. Those who suffer from less good circulation may also have reduced nerve function which means pain is less evident. So always get any unexplained filling or discolouration of skin checked out by a healthcare worker.

Cellulitis on the thigh

Other than an entry point caused by traumatic or deliberate incision, cellulitis on the thigh has its derivation from a point slightly higher up in the groin offering perfect incubation conditions for a number of nasty bacterial and fungal maladies which thrive in warm, often sweaty nooks and crannies.

Cellulitis of the inner thigh

The inner thigh is nicely located at the top of the leg directly beneath the anus and the genitalia, two great locations for plenty of bacteria, routine daily bodily functions and sex. Obvious contenders for infection are jock itch or jock rot – proper name, tinea cruris – which is perceived as predominantly a male condition but actually refers to fungal growth in those hot, damp crevices and can affect both genders. This can easily extend and develop into cellulitis of the inner thigh if microscopic scrapes or contusions occur and are not treated effectively with appropriate anti-fungal drugs.

Chafing in hot conditions of the skin of the inner thigh sounds almost laughable – the rather humorously and inelegantly entitled, ‘chub rub’. This is no joke! It can lead to extreme soreness and even bleeding and clearly would become a repository for infection.

Different internet guides spout varied theories on how to manage this condition which really only affects those who shorts, skirts or dresses. Some take the talcum powder route, an old trick to absorb sweat and make the skin shiny and slippery so it doesn’t rub.

Other pundits swear that talc can clump and become an even worse offender advocating lube and lots of it. Athletes use a product called Body Glide which creates an invisible dry barrier whether you are running a marathon or just heading to the office. Nappy cream is another popular alternative, frequently containing zinc oxide which soothes red skin and helps to repel infection.



Article References:

  1. https://cop.org.uk/foot-health/common-foot-problems/ingrowing-toenail/
  2. https://journals.lww.com/clinorthop/Fulltext/2001/10000/Foot_and_Ankle_Infections_After_Surgery.17.aspx
  3. https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/qa/how-do-you-know-if-your-swollen-ankles-and-feet-are-caused-by-an-infection
  4. https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/guide/fungal-infections-skin
  5. https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/prevent-chub-rub-treat-chafing-thighs-dermatologists_n_56fd8301e4b0daf53aef3dd6