Cellulitis and Lymphedema
One common complication that Lymphedema patients experience is a condition called Cellulitis. Cellulitis is a skin infection that can enter the body through a break in the skin, a scratch, an open wound or other pre-existing skin conditions.
What is cellulitis ?
Cellulitis occurs when bacteria, most commonly streptococcus and staphylococcus, enter through a crack or break in your skin. Any minor case of cellulitis can lead to a more advanced systemic infection called sepsis, which can be life threatening– which is why it is critical to be able to identify, prevent, and treat cellulitis quickly and effectively.
Why are Lymphedema patients predisposed to getting cellulitis more often than other people?
The dense fibrotic tissue associated with lymphedema increases risk for skin breakdown, slows wound healing and impedes immune response to infection. The body’s response to healing frequent infections in turn creates more fibrosis with each subsequent infection or injury, creating a cycle of worsening symptoms over time.
How to recognize Cellulitis?
The most obvious symptom of Cellulitis is a red, swollen area that feels hot and painful/tender. Other common symptoms of Cellulitis are fever, chills, disorientation, wounds, blisters if it progresses.
What to do if you suspect you have Cellulitis–
If you are experiencing symptoms that sound like Cellulitis, you should call your doctor immediately or go to your nearest emergency room.
Tips to Prevent Cellulitis–
Be careful to avoid injury to the skin, maintain good hygiene, manage skin conditions as directed by a physician, use lotion, and wear at least 30 mmhg compression on the affected limb to reduce the development of fibrosis.