Skin and Soft Tissue Infections

Virtually anyone can suffer from a skin infection or an infection of the soft tissue directly below the skin. Of course, some people are more at risk, including those who already have damaged or weakened skin or those who are exposed to bacteria. In fact, the vast majority of these infections do come from specific bacteria, including staph or staphylococci and strep or streptococci. Naturally, they aren’t the only causes, but they are the most common. The two bacteria are normally present on the skin as it is. However, if the skin is broken then the bacteria can get into the soft tissue and cause infection.

The Technical Name

Skin and soft tissue infections are called cellulitis. And, in most cases, they are very minor, clearing up on their own. However, in immune compromised individuals, children, and the elderly, the infection can worsen to severe. In some cases, the infection could even become generalized, meaning it will spread throughout the body. In those cases, what started as a skin infection could lead to fever, worsening physical signs of the infection and even shock.

If these types of infections do not heal on their own or worsen, they are treated with antibiotics. In some rare cases when the infection gets very serious, then intravenous antibiotics may be needed.

Who Is at Risk?

Anyone who suffers from a cut, scrape, or other abrasion can get one of these skin and soft tissue infections. However, there are certain risk factors that can lead to the infections more quickly. These factors include:

  • A recent injury that broke the skin, including wounds, abrasions, cuts, or needle marks.
  • History of radiation therapy.
  • Presence of fungal skin infections such as athlete’s foot.
  • Presence of viral skin infections, such as chickenpox.
  • Swelling due to edema, which is an accumulation of fluid. This is caused by heart failure, liver disease, or poor circulation.
  • History of chronic skin conditions, such as eczema or psoriasis.
  • Obesity or being overweight.

If any of these conditions are present, then there is a greater risk of developing some form of skin and soft tissue infections.

The Symptoms

The symptoms of skin and soft tissue infections are all very similar. They usually include swelling and redness of the skin as well as warmth radiating from the area. Other symptoms can include smooth and shiny skin, small blisters and pimples that form in the area. Usually, the redness will expand for a certain period of time before receding if the skin and soft tissue infection resolves itself. However, if it worsens, then the redness and swelling will continue.

Certain areas of the body are most prone to skin and soft tissue infections, including:

  • Legs
  • Arms
  • Around the eye
  • The abdominal wall
  • Around the anus

However, cellulitis can actually form anywhere on the body. These are simply the most common.

Some types of skin infections also come along with abscesses or boils. Usually, this occurs when infected pus builds up beneath the skin.

Skin infections and those that affect the soft tissue are common, and as mentioned, they tend to heal up on their own. However, in elderly individuals, this may not happen. That’s because their skin is more prone to damage and their immune system is often compromised due to their age and other conditions from which they may suffer. If you have an elderly loved one who is dealing with recurrent skin and soft tissue infections, and you have reason to believe this may be due to nursing home abuse and neglect, then it would be best to contact an attorney. It is best to look after the wellbeing of your loved one as soon as possible.

Resources:

http://www.uptodate.com/contents/skin-and-soft-tissue-infection-cellulitis-beyond-the-basics

 

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