What is Cellulitis Infection (Bacterial): Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

What is Cellulitis infection?

Cellulitis is a bacterial infection as opposed to a viral infection or a fungal infestation. It is imperative to comprehend this distinction as it affects how the disease occurs, its mechanism of spread and the choice of treatment. Understanding literally what cellulitis infection is, helps manage both remedial care and controls the likelihood of recurrence.

What is the difference between bacterial and viral infections?

Viruses do not respond to antibiotics or antimicrobials, they are prevented by appropriate anticipatory vaccination programmes or treated with antiviral drugs if established. So, who out there attempts to persuade their doctor to prescribe something for the cold or flu?

You are barking up the wrong tree because antibiotics won’t make a jot of difference. Repeated prescribing of antibiotics in scenarios where they are not efficacious i.e. viruses, has contributed significantly to the burgeoning superbug population demonstrating ever increasing resistance to current antibiotics, a worrying trend for the future of infection control.

What is a fungal infection?

A fungus is classed scientifically as a primitive organism – mildew and mushrooms are both illustrations of fungi. Varieties of human fungal infection include ringworm (not worms at all), the charmingly and vividly named, jock itch, and athlete’s foot. Fungus can be airborne, in the earth, found in water and on the human skin. Infections are treated with anti-fungal medication either topically applied or orally ingested or both. There is an interrelationship between fungal infections and bacterial infections. For instance, a bad outbreak of athlete’s foot on the skin around your big toe could develop fissures trapping common bacteria and creating a secondary development of cellulitis or other disagreeable conditions. Vice versa, antibiotic treatment for a bacterial infection say a wound or soft tissue injury or a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) can completely rid the body of its own natural, healthy and friendly bacteria leading to the incursion of a fungal infection such as thrush.

Are the bugs that cause cellulitis bacterial infection everyday germs?

We are awash with by bacteria. The media is swimming with advertisements for healthy gut bacteria and drinks like Yakult designed to support optimum digestive function so consequently, we have become knowledgeable about our bug friends. Did you know that the weight of all the bacteria in your body is equivalent to the size of your brain – 3lbs! We have bacteria on the surface of our skin and in our airways, to act as a defensive army against unwanted invaders. Every person has their own unique bacterial environment totally bespoke to them, it is called the microbiome. If this is majorly disrupted, some pretty deadly bacteria can overrun the defences and cause serious illness. One of the reasons why children are more prone to cellulitis of the eye is not only the number of bacteria on their face but their immature immune systems. So we welcome bacteria sometimes and on other occasions, need to destroy them. How does that work?

Bacteria are single cells and micro organisms, living in our intestine, occurring on our skin. So there are lots of bacteria present which do routinely not cause illness and disease. The human system can also tolerate relatively low levels of undesirable strains of bacteria such as Staphylococcus Aureus, commonly shortened to ‘Staph’. Say you sustain a scratch to your knee or a graze on one of your legs, it is easy for these bacteria already present on the surface to enter the lesion and lead to a cellulitis bacterial infection or something far worse.

What sorts of bacteria causes cellulitis infection?

Bacteriology is the scientific study of disease-bearing bacteria. A pathologist determines the precise bacterium responsible for a specific disease through microscopic laboratory analysis. Strep and Staph commonly cause cellulitis. First identified by researchers in the 1880s, Staph is not only one of the designated the bacteria which causes cellulitis infection but can develop into bacterial pneumonia circulating within the bloodstream which is highly dangerous.

In the 1950s, the Staphylococcus Aureus bacterium developed resistance to penicillin so Methicillin was invented to tackle stubborn S. Aureus infections quickly followed by the now infamous MRSA first reported in the States in 1968.

Microbiologists continue to endeavour to outpace antibiotic-resistant bacteria working also in the field of Pathophysiology which studies how disease behaves in the body to aid progress in masterminding ever more sophisticated treatments. This is not just because of the rising antibiotic resistance crisis but in order to learn how to utilise good bacteria more powerfully in human medicine.

Although bacteria are what causes cellulitis infection, there is usually some form of ingress into the skin caused by accidental or deliberate means, a cut or abrasion or deliberate surgical procedure such as to remove a tooth or some other clinical process.

Pictures of cellulitis infection

No guide to cellulitis would be complete without some gruesome ‘Chamber of Horrors’ images. Clinical diagnosis of cellulitis infection is made on appearance, history and by documenting the patient’s symptoms. In order to track the extent of the infection, some doctors may draw around the perimeter in felt tip pen but equally, you can just take pictures of your cellulitis infection to monitor any spread and to horrify your social media friends with a quick post on Facebook or Instagram.



Article References:

  1. https://medlineplus.gov/fungalinfections.html
  2. https://www.healthymepa.com/2017/02/21/do-you-need-antibiotics/
  3. https://www.yakult.co.uk/
  4. http://www.center4research.org/bacteria-good-bad-ugly/
  5. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cellulitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20370762
  6. https://www.niaid.nih.gov/research/mrsa-antimicrobial-resistance-history
  7. https://onlinemasters.ohio.edu/blog/what-is-pathophysiology-in-nursing/