What is Foot Cellulitis? How to Prevent It and When to Worry

April 24, 2023

Foot cellulitis is a bacterial infection of the skin and tissues in the foot. Other than your feet, it can also affect your toes, legs, arms, face, fingers, and hands. In most cases, you will notice swelling, redness, and pain in the infected area. It can spread and cause serious health issues if not treated on time. You will have to see a foot and ankle doctor to get this infection treated.

Who Does Foot Cellulitis Affect?

Anyone can get foot cellulitis. However, people more likely to be affected by the infection include:

  • Children
  • Obese people
  • Anyone with a wound like a cut, bug bite, ulcer, surgical incision, animal bite, piercing, or tattoo.
  • Anyone with a chronic skin infection like eczema, athlete’s foot, or psoriasis
  • Anyone with shingles or chickenpox
  • Anyone with a weak immune system

Symptoms of Foot Cellulitis

Cellulitis may begin with slight discoloration of the skin. It may also feel slightly warm to the touch. The discoloration will get darker as the infection progresses. While redness of the skin, pain, and swelling are the most common symptoms of foot cellulitis, it also presents other symptoms, including:

  • Tenderness
  • Edema
  • The area is warm to touch
  • Fluid-filled blisters
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Skin looking pitted or lumpy
  • Fatigue

What Causes Foot Cellulitis?

Foot cellulitis is caused due to different bacteria, the most common being Streptococcus and Staphylococcus. In some cases, the infection could also be caused due to poor hygiene. Maintaining good skin hygiene can help prevent the condition. Ensure you wash your hands with soap water, clean and trim your finger and toenails, shower and dry your skin thoroughly, wear clean clothes, and clean small wounds regularly. 

Also Read: What You Need to Know About Emergency Tooth Extraction

Can Cellulitis Be Treated?

Cellulitis can be treated with the help of oral antibiotics. These may include Cephalexin or Dicloxacillin. However, antibiotics may not be able to treat severe Cellulitis. In such cases, you may have to be hospitalized with IV antibiotics. 

The quickest way of healing cellulitis is to take a complete antibiotics course. Along with that, some home remedies may help relieve the symptoms:

  • Applying a warm compress to the affected area to reduce swelling
  • Elevating the affected area in the foot lowers blood pressure in the area’s blood vessels and improves blood flow.
  • Using compression stockings or wraps improves blood flow and reduces swelling. You should not wrap the infected area too tightly, as it can cut circulation. Ensure you remove the compression wrap at least twice daily for 10-15 minutes.
  • Taking over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Ibuprofen, Aspirin, and Naproxen to reduce inflammation and pain. However, not everybody can take these NSAIDs, so you should speak to your doctor before consuming them.

Also Read:- How Important is Bloodborne Pathogen Certification?

Most of the time, your Cellulitis will begin to heal within 7 to 10 days of starting the antibiotics course. Your pain will reduce, the inflammation will come down, and the discoloration will also start fading. 

Is Foot Cellulitis Contagious?

Usually, foot cellulitis is not contagious. However, on rare occasions, you may contract Cellulitis if you have an open wound and come in contact with an infected person’s wound. 

Tips to Reduce the Risk of Foot Cellulitis

While anyone can get infected with Cellulitis, there are certain precautions that you can take to reduce your risk, like:

  • Keeping the skin moist to prevent cracking
  • Cleaning your sores and wounds with water and antibacterial soap
  • Treating sores and wounds with an antibiotic cream
  • Bandaging your wounds to prevent bacteria or dirt from entering it
  • Avoiding rubbing or touching the affected area
  • Wearing protective gear when working or playing sports that could lead to injuries
  • Inspecting your feet regularly for signs of infection or injury
  • Meeting the doctor immediately for deep puncture wounds or cuts

Cellulitis Complications

Complications from Cellulitis are uncommon but can lead to serious infections like:

  • Blood infection or Bacteremia
  • Bacterial infection in the joint called Suppurative Arthritis
  • Bone infection or Osteomyelitis
  • Swelling of the inner lining of the heart’s chambers and heart valves is called Endocarditis
  • Swelling in the vein due to a blood clot called Thrombophlebitis 

While Cellulitis may not be serious initially, it can soon escalate to a serious condition if not treated promptly. Visiting a podiatrist like Premier Foot & Ankle Care can help treat your foot Cellulitis. They offer state-of-the-art foot and ankle care to patients in a comfortable environment. Their specialties include wound and infection care, heel pain, nail disorders, diabetic foot care, bunions and hammertoe, and foot and ankle injuries.

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