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Infections

Cellulitis

Cellulitis is a bacterial infection of the skin that presents itself as redness, swelling and tenderness of the skin. It usually occurs on the legs, although it may develop anywhere on the body. If left untreated, cellulitis can spread throughout the bloodstream and cause life-threatening complications.

Cellulitis is typically caused by bacteria that enter through breaks in the skin. Streptococcus and staphylococcus are the two most common bacteria associated with cellulitis. Certain insect bites can also transmit cellulitis-causing bacteria into the skin.

Symptoms of cellulitis may include fever, pain, swelling, tenderness and redness. In some cases, blisters may form on the affected areas of skin. It is important to seek prompt medical attention for all rashes to receive effective treatment and avoid complications.

To diagnose cellulitis, the doctor will perform a visual examination of the skin. Blood tests may also be taken to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms, such as blood clots in the leg veins. Antibiotics are usually prescribed to treat cellulitis, with a follow-up visit to the doctor necessary after a few days to monitor healing. It is important to take the entire course of antibiotics, even if symptoms have already subsided.

Abcess

An abscess is an infection of the soft tissue that results in a pooling of pus. Typically, an abscess is caused by bacteria, although it may be the result of a virus or fungal infection. An abscess appears as a reddened, swollen, painful area on the foot. Most often, surgical abscess drainage is necessary to treat an abscess successfully.

An abscess is often caused by a puncture or minor tear of the skin. Once germs penetrate the skin, the body’s immune system attacks these germs and inflammation results. The pus in an abscess is comprised of dead cells, bacteria and other debris. As these substances accumulate, pressure and swelling in the area result in pain.

While abscesses may occur in any individual, they occur more frequently in individuals with poor hygiene, those who inhabit dirty environments and those with chronic skin conditions or poor circulation. They also occur more easily in patients with weakened immune systems, such as those with diabetes.

There are some situations in which an abscess will come to a head, rupture and drain without surgical intervention. In most cases, however, an abscess, unlike other infections, does not normally respond to antibiotic treatment alone. It will usually require an incision and drainage through needle aspiration. Frequently, the drainage procedure is performed under ultrasound or CT guidance. This ensures precise and effective treatment of the abscess.

During the incision and drainage process, a small needle is inserted directly into the abscess so that any accumulated fluid or material can be aspirated. Patients undergoing incision and drainage normally require only a local anesthetic. The drained fluid is usually sent to a laboratory for pathology testing to identify the particular germ responsible for the infection.

Bone Infections (Osteomyelitis)

An infection of the bone is known as osteomyelitis. The infection may develop in the bone or spread to the bone from another area, and it can result in the formation of an abscess in the bone that blocks blood supply. Most cases of osteomyelitis are caused by germs or the staphylococcus bacteria that has spread from infected skin, muscles or tendons.

Most individuals have bones that are resistant to infection, making osteomyelitis more common in patients with weakened bones or immune systems. This may include individuals who have diabetes or poor circulation, or those who have recently been injured or undergone orthopedic surgery.

Symptoms of bone infections may vary depending on the type of infection and the age of the patient. Patients with bone infections may experience:

  • Fever
  • Pain in the affected area
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness

Hospitalization is often necessary when treating a bone infection. Osteomyelitis is initially treated with antibiotics to combat the infection. If the infection does not subside, surgery may be necessary. Surgery may include draining pus or fluid from the infected area, removing diseased bone and tissue or restoring blood flow to the bone. A bone or tissue graft may be needed after these procedures are performed. In very severe cases, a limb may be amputated to stop the infection from spreading further. Underlying conditions such as diabetes should also be treated to reduce the risk of infection from reoccurring.

Contact Us

Robert Spencer, DPM

Nitza Rodriguez, DPM

Han Nguyen, DPM

Map & Directions

333 Corporate Drive, Suite 230, Ladera Ranch, CA 92694
Tel: (949) 364-9255 (WALK)
Fax: (949) 364-9250
Office Hours:
Monday - Friday: 9am - 5pm
*(Lunch 12 noon - 1pm)