Natural flora of our body includes some types of bacteria. These bacteria thrive inside and outside the human body without causing harm if they stay in their rightful place and maintain normal numbers. In some instances, we accidentally acquire cuts and breaks in the skin that causes unwanted skin openings. These cuts or scrapes allow some of the body's external natural flora to enter the outer layer of the skin and move inward to infect the deepest skin layer. This is what happens in cellulitis.
Cellulitis is skin disease that may appear in different parts of the body. The bacteria responsible for this skin disease are usually the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus and Group A Streptococcus. Both causes of cellulitis play a role in the different types of cellulitis such as facial cellulitis, breast cellulitis, orbital cellulitis, periorbital cellulitis, hand/arm cellulitis, perianal cellulitis and lower leg/foot cellulitis.
These two causes of cellulitis act differently once inside the body. The Group A beta-hemolytic streptococci rapidly spread under the skin and produces enzymes that break down cells thereby allows non-localized infection. Staphylococci infection on the other hand is more localized and often occurs upon entry through an open wound.
Other microorganisms and underlying diseases may also be one of the causes of cellulitis. These microorganisms may enter the body through scrapes, cuts, wounds, blisters, insect bites and even ulcers and penetrates the skin layers. Tattoos and surgical wounds may also be entry points of cellulitis-causing bacteria. Some infection may even cause swelling to nearby lymph nodes and eventually spread infection through the blood.
- Hemophilus influenzae type B or Hib is a gram-negative and non-motile bacterium that used to rampantly cause cellulitis and other diseases especially in children. Since a vaccine for Hib has already been developed, cases of cellulitis caused by this type of bacteria have dramatically decreased.
- Clostridium perfringens is an anaerobic bacterium commonly found in soil, in marine sediments and is also a natural flora of the intestines. This bacterium causes anaerobic cellulitis. This is a localized infection that involves the skin and soft tissue and in rare cases may cause necrosis.
- Pasteurella multocida is a bacterium included in the causes of cellulitis from animal bites. This bacterium is a resident of the upper respiratory tract in cats, dogs, and livestock. It may be passed on to a human though bites, scratches or even just their saliva. The cellulitis caused by this bacterium progresses rapidly and needs immediate medical care.
- Certain diseases may also lead to complications and be one of the causes of cellulitis.
Immunocompromised people or people with weak immune systems are easy targets for cellulitis-causing bacteria. Those with chronic skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis wherein the skin constantly has fresh wounds or openings may also easily acquire cellulitis if not careful. Same can be said with those who have athlete's foot, fungal infection, diabetes and edema.
Cellulitis is commonly treated with antibiotics and may be relieved by antibiotic topical ointments. Doctor prescription and advice is needed before treatment. Severe cases of cellulitis are delat with in a hospital while mild cases may be treated at home.