Cellulitis is a skin infection caused by bacteria. It most commonly occurs on the legs and feet. However, it can affect other parts of the body as well. Because cellulitis can happen at any age, it’s a good idea for family caregivers to be familiar with the condition so that they can ensure their aging relatives receive the help they need.
Cause of Cellulitis
Cellulitis happens when bacteria enters through a break in the skin. The most common kinds of bacteria that cause cellulitis are streptococcus and staphylococcus. Bacteria can get into the skin through any crack or break, such as those caused by:
Symptoms to Watch For
The signs and symptoms of cellulitis typically occur only on one side of the body. They may include:
Cellulitis can spread through the body quickly. Therefore, it’s important that seniors with symptoms of the condition receive prompt medical treatment. Emergency treatment is needed if:
The older adult has a red rash that is swollen and tender or growing rapidly.
The senior has a fever.
Risk Factors for Cellulitis
There are several things that can make your aging relative more susceptible to cellulitis. These are called risk factors. Risk factors for the condition include:
-An Injury: Any kind of injury that breaks the skin provides a place for bacteria to enter the skin.
Compromised Immune System: Any conditions that make the immune system weaker, like diabetes or leukemia, make infections more likely.
-Skin Conditions: Skin conditions that create breaks in the skin are a risk factor. Some skin conditions that raise the risk are eczema, athlete’s foot, and shingles.
-Lymphedema: This is a chronic inflammation of the skin that sometimes happens after surgery.
Obesity: People who are overweight or obese get cellulitis more often than those of a healthy weight.
-History of Cellulitis: Once a person has had cellulitis, they are more likely to get it again.
Home care can help your aging relative to prevent cellulitis by assisting them with proper wound and skin care. A home care provider can inspect the older adult’s feet daily for cracks, cuts, and wounds. This is especially important for seniors with diabetes who may not notice a wound due to numbness. If there is a wound, a home care provider can help to clean and bandage it daily. In addition, a home care provider can apply moisturizer to the senior’s skin to prevent dryness and cracking.