A Hospital Visit For An Infection??
Yup, if it's Cellulitis!

My 2nd Bout with Cellulitis
 

Cellulitis, The Clinical Side

Cellulitis is infection that is spreading through the tissue around a sore or boil. The skin is very red, hot, and sore to the touch. Cellulitis is caused by a variety of germs but usually Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, or Haemophilus influenzae. Antibiotics are definitely in order. Especially dangerous is cellulitis arising from infected chickenpox, caused by the Group A streptococcus bacterium. This could become necrotizing fasciitis, the "flesh-eating virus" you hear about. Whenever you suspect a cellulitis is developing, and especially in cases of chickenpox, call your doctor. 

Avoid ibuprofen for fever if you suspect cellulitis, especially with chickenpox.  It is suspected to cause suppression of the normal inflammatory response to cellulitis with dangerous delay in diagnosis.

Cellulitis is a medical term for a bacterial infection of tissues under the skin. It's commonly caused by streptococcal ("strep") or staphylococcal ("staph") bacteria. The infection is usually confined to the connective tissue just beneath the surface of the skin but may extend into underlying muscles. The entry point for the germs may be as simple as a crack in the skin around the nose or a puncture wound from a rose bush. Certain bacteria, such as strep and staph, produce enzymes that break down natural barriers to infection and allow it to spread rapidly.

Cellulitis appears as intensely inflamed skin that is swollen, red, tender and warm to the touch, with spreading, indistinct margins. Blisters may appear over the involved area. The location may be anywhere that the germs gain entry. Erysipelas (air-ih-SIP-ah-las), a superficial form of cellulitis, is usually due to strep infection and commonly occurs on the face. 

Fortunately, most of the organisms that cause this problem respond to antibiotics. The sooner treatment is begun the better, because cellulitis may spread rapidly to cover a large area of skin. Cellulitis that occurs in a person whose immune system is compromised, or that results from certain highly virulent organisms, may pose a threat to life. 

The infection is not contagious. With treatment, cellulitis can be cured in 7 to 10 days; left untreated, the infection can get into your blood. 
 

 

Incubation

 
The incubation period varies depending on the type of bacteria causing the cellulitis. For example, cellulitis caused by PASTEURELLA MULTOCIDA has a very short incubation period - only four to 24 hours after an animal bite. But other types of bacteria may have incubation periods of several days.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO

 
  • If your doctor prescribes an antibiotic, finish all the medication, even if you are feeling better. If you stop treatment too soon, some of the bacteria may survive and re-infect you. 
  • Rest in bed until the fever is gone, and pain and redness have subsided. 
  • If the infection is on your arm or leg, keep the limb elevated by placing it on a pillow or chair. 
  • Use warm water soaks to relieve pain and help healing. Soak a clean cloth in warm water, wring it out a little, and apply it to the affected area. Resoak the cloth often to keep it warm. Apply soaks for about 1 hour and repeat the soaking several times during the day. 
  • Make an appointment to have your doctor recheck the infected site. 

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Call Your Doctor If...

 
  • You develop a high temperature or your fever does not disappear with treatment. 
  • You find a blister on the infected area, see the area of redness spreading, or notice red streaks coming from the infected site. 
  • The joint or bone underneath the infected skin becomes painful after the skin has healed. 
  • You develop new, unexplained symptoms. 

  •  
     
     
Seek Care Immediately If...

 
  • You feel drowsy and lethargic, or develop vomiting or diarrhea. 
  •  
     
     
Care

 
  • You may need an antibiotic to fight the infection. If the infection becomes severe, you may require hospitalization.

  •  
     
     
Left Untreated

 
  • The following conditions can occur within 48 hours of a severe infection.
  • Bacteremia: An invasion of bacteria into the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, the infection can spread to other parts of body, producing abscesses, peritonitis (inflammation of abdominal cavity), endocarditis (inflammation of the heart), or meningitis. Bacteremia may lead to sepsis or shock, causing a systemic illness with high fever, blood coagulation (thickening) and eventually organ failure. 
  • Focal infections with or without bacteremia: GAS can cause focal infections, which are limited to a particular site.  These include pneumonia, abscess of tissues near the tonsils, joint infections (septic arthritis), bone infections (osteomyelitis), peritonitis, and meningitis. Bacteremia can be associated with these infections, but it is not always present. Treatment depends on the specific clinical findings. 
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The reason I did the page and my experience
December 28, 1999

 
Well, I had been having a bit of a problem with my leg for the last 3 weeks and I was having a bit of trouble understanding what was going on.  I developed a 102° temperature that lasted a couple of days, my leg swelled up, and suddenly it all subsided.  I thought that it was gone. 

Until Tuesday, December 28, 1999, when my temp went back up to 103+° and stayed there, my right calf began to swell and turn red, and started to get worse. 

I pushed to see the doctor and his response was, "You're going to the hospital."  I would have been just as happy to get a prescription and head home, but there was NO negotiation on this one, the doctor said, "You're going to the hospital,  you can't wait until after the 1st.  I'm not even going to attempt oral antibiotics.  I'm sorry I have to tell you the bad news about this, but you need to get IV antibiotics because this infection could, if it already hasn't, get into the blood, and it could  turn very bad, very fast."

This actually meant that I was possibly only hours from being "septic" which means that the infection was in my blood, and if I ignored it for much longer it could have easily killed me.

So my wonderful friend Leo took me up to Swedish Hospital, where I spent Thursday, December 30th, Friday, December 31st and Saturday, January 1, 2000 in the hospital.
Oh, I don't at all regret staying in the hospital over New Year's Eve in the least, not considering some of the information that I have found out about Cellulitis.  There is more info below.  The reason this page exists is maybe it will save someone the hassle, pain, swelling and uncertainty that I had went through because I had never heard of this condition.  After 3 days in the hospital, and spending 4 days with a temp between 103° and 104° it seemed like a pretty reasonable thing to do.

Doctor said it will take 10-20 days for this to completely subside, so I'm at home taking my antibiotics as prescribed and trying very hard not to be up and running around for a while like he definitely insisted on.

I do know that my leg was infected probably about 3 - 4 weeks before Thanksgiving of 1999.  I wasn't running a temperature, but my leg had started to turn red, so this infection was around for a long time in my case, but don't wait if you suspect this type of infection, it's certainly not something I recommend waiting on.

June 20, 2001 - Another cellulitus incident.

A pic taken one day into treatment.


I don't fool around at all when I discover that my leg is very warm to the touch
because this type of infection if ignored can cause septicemia which in many
cases is very difficult to treat, and can be fatal.


 
 
Monday, January 3, 2000

 
This pic was taken after 3 days of IV Antibiotics (Cephalexin) and 
two days of oral antibiotics (Cephalexin 500mg every six hours).
 
 


January 11, 2000

 
After 10 days of antibiotics (Cephalexin 500mg every 6 hours)
 
 


January 21, 2000

 
The leg cleared up, I had gone to the doctor's office and was told to
keep an eye out for reinfection just in case, I had about two days of 
antibiotics left to take.
 
Feburary 8, 2000

 
Woke up and noticed that a part of my leg was warmer than
the rest of my leg.  The leg had returned to it's normal skin
color and tone, but the warmth was still there in an area
that was about the size of my hand, so I called the doctor.
My leg had been swelling still, so I was watching closely.
Went to see the doctor, and again, 14 days of antibiotics, 
the Cephalexin 500mg every 6 hours, there goes my sleeping
for the next two weeks.  But this time I caught it before it
put me into the hospital, and hopefully this will the the 
last round of antibiotics.  This one has been a hard one
to kill off for sure.  I do know that I would rather sit here
with my leg elevated and take antibiotics than let it go
and end up without a leg or my life. 
So, I'll have reason to stay home.. wheeeee..
 
Cellulitus happens again
 
July 28,2000, Friday

I had gone to Wyoming for a trip back there, and everything was just fine.  On the way back however I had been bitten a couple of times by bugs.  That's the only thing I can think of that would have sparked off this instance of Cellulitus in my left leg, instead of my right leg.

What happened to give me a clue that something had happened, was I woke up Friday, feeling like I had been run through some sort of shredder.  There wasn't a muscle in my body that didn't hurt, and I was running a 102+ temperature.  I spent most of the day laying down, and shivering.  After a fitful night of sleep, I woke up and felt much better, however when I ran my hand over my left calf I knew immediately what was going on, I had a case of cellulitus again.  My leg was swollen, and very warm to the touch, yet the rest of me wasn't.

My doctor had the forsight to give me a script during the last bout that I could use if this came back.  So I hobbled to the drug store and started the process of taking Cephalexin 500mg every 6 hours.  I also got myself a cane, which has made the hobbling a little bit easier.  Monday I called the doctor's office, and continued to take the antibiotic. 

My first visit at the doctor's office included a really big shot of another antibiotic.  Because I had acted quickly with the antibiotics, I was instructed to continue the antibiotic, and come back in 5 days.  Of course, also to call him immediately if it got worse.

My second visit, more antibiotics, another really big shot of another antibiotic, and the same instructions.  Of course after this visit, I went to get one of those surgical sleeves to put on my leg to reduce the swelling of my leg.  The swelling of the leg was causing a ripping and tearing sensation in my leg, the surgical sleeve has helped alot with that.

This incident of cellulitus wasn't nearly as scary because I had an idea of what to look for:  High temperature, area read and warm to the touch, and swelling.  I am not a doctor, just a patient, but if you find signs of cellulitus in your system, do NOT hesitate to see a doctor for antibiotics.  Cellulitus can and does kill, so don't treat it lightly.
 

I also want to thank:
Leo, Tyler, and Rom so very much for all the help they have given me during this time.
They are the most wonderful friends to put up with that Bob,
I don't know what I would do without them.
Except maybe find new victims to drive crazy!!
 

I am not a doctor, and I am not offering this information as medical advice.
This is a compilation of my own experience with this skin condition, and the
research that I did on the Internet.  If you think that you have this condition,
contact your physician, don't ignore it or just think it will go away.