Complications of lymphedema Cellulitis
Cellulitis is a bacterial infection that causes inflammation of the skin. Lymphedema cellulitis are closely related since this is one of the most common complications that a lymphedema patient encounters. Swelling of a limb affected by lymphedema causes the skin on the affected area to stretch, leaving it more vulnerable to infection. There is improper drainage of the protein rich lymphatic fluid from the affected extremity which in turn affects the immune system of the body. A weak immune system, being unable to fight the infection leaves the body susceptible to bacterial attacks and more infection, a vicious cycle that leads to recurring bouts of cellulitis.
A small cut, a bruise or a mosquito bite can be the entry point for the bacteria, namely the streptococcus or the staphylococcus aureus which is the main cause of cellulitis. The symptoms may include a pain or swelling in the area, rash or red streaks on the skin, a warm feeling in the area and fever with chills. Not all the symptoms may appear at one time. Cellulitis looks different with each individual and often changes appearance even when it reoccurs with the same person. Generally, it affects the leg region, but can also affect the arms, the scalp or even the face.
Treatment for this ailment is a dosage of antibiotics. The problem goes away within a week if it is treated immediately. However, some lymphedema patients may have acute cellulitis and may have to be hospitalized so that antibiotics can be administered intravenously. This is the lymphedema patient’s worst nightmare and the most common reason for being hospitalized. Timely treatment ensures that the condition does not deteriorate further to cause more complications.
The patient must discontinue the lymphedema therapy during this attack of cellulitis. If manual lymph drainage is being performed, the sessions must be stopped till the infection clears. There should be no bandaging and the compression pump or the compression garment should not be used for that duration. No blood should be drawn from the infected limb. The limb must be kept elevated as much as possible. Above all, it is crucial to complete the whole course of the antibiotics even though the symptoms of infection may seem to have disappeared.
The best method for lymphedema patients to prevent cellulitis is to take precautions. If there is a cut or bruise, it must be cleaned immediately and an antibiotic cream should be applied. For better healing, the wound should be bandaged, with the bandage being changed every day. Lymphedema patients must also check for fungal infections especially on the feet. Skin care is important to keep bacterial infections away, especially in case of lymphedema sufferers. General precautions and care will assist lymphedema patients in keeping cellulitis away. Simple precautions like wearing gloves while working with detergents or while gardening, not going barefoot and avoiding sharp objects help a great deal to prevent cellulitis and other complications of lymphedema.
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