24 June 2013

Cellulitis

Luckily, not many of my clients get cellulitis, but those that do, tend to get it regularly.  For those of you lucky enough to have never heard of cellulitis,  the following is a definition by the Mayo Clinic (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/cellulitis/DS00450) - Cellulitis (sel-u-LI-tis) is a common, potentially serious bacterial skin infection. Cellulitis appears as a swollen, red area of skin that feels hot and tender, and it may spread rapidly ... Left untreated, the spreading infection may rapidly turn life-threatening. That's why it's important to seek immediate medical attention if cellulitis symptoms occur.

cellulitis

photo courtesy http://medical.cdn.patient.co.uk/images/236.jpg

I have two regular clients who struggle with cellulitis.  For both of them the attacks come with no warning - they can go from normal to making their way to hospital within an hour or two of feeling the symptoms come on.  And that's not an exaggeration, I wish it was.  If they are lucky enough to be in town and can get to their "usual" hospital, the one with all their files, then they are in luck.  They don't have as much work to do - a quick explanation to the triage staff of what their bodies respond to and they can be admitted pretty quickly.  Depending on the severity of the attack, it can be a few days to a week before they can go home.  If they happen to be travelling, even interstate, then that's when the fun starts.  Then they have a battle over everything ... no, you can't use that arm for a cannula, or to draw blood - why?  Because the veins are so traumatised that you can't get in any more, you might have to try my foot instead.  Ouch.  Trust me, even if I let you try, all you'll do is end up bruising me and you won't have any joy.  Somehow they never listen and insist on trying, wasting time and causing bruising.  Then there's the battle over which antibiotics the hospital would like to give as opposed to those that work for that particular person.  Anyone who has had repeated attacks of cellulitis knows exactly what works and they can tell you, if you'll listen.  The list goes on and on.  One of my two clients can end up in hospital almost on a monthly basis ... and that's in spite of the fact that she gets a shot of antibiotics every month as a prophylactic (actually, that has slowed down her visits, but they still happen).

Some of the risk factors that affect both of my clients are obesity, prior surgery with lymph nodes removed, lymphoedema and a weakened immune system.  They are both very active and fit in spite of their limitations, walking, going to the gym and water aerobics.  And what keeps them out of  hospital?  Regular manual lymphatic drainage and extreme vigilance.   The lymphatic drainage keeps their immune systems in check, reduces their lymphoedema so that their skin is kept healthy and doesn't crack or weep and keeps pathogens moving out of their bodies.  If they do have a flare up, they go straight to hospital and will only come and see me once the antibiotics have kicked in and brought the infection under control - it is contraindicated to have massage when there are any signs of infection in your body - redness, heat or swelling.

Just think, the more we can get the benefits of manual lymphatic drainage publicised and into general knowledge then more people who will have it regularly ... fewer people will develop cellulitis ... so fewer people will take up beds in hospitals.  Here's hoping!

0 comments on “Cellulitis”

  1. Cellulitis on a regular basis is what led to my lymph node transplant.. My leg and skin always looked perfect and was well looked after but an infection could flare up in half an hour with no real sign of what started it.. I carry antibiotics at all times so I can get a couple down on the way to hospital!! It is truly a terrible problem especially as now my veins are so bad I had to have a PICC line inserted for antibiotics.. There is now talk of different types of Lymphoedema.. And that some types are more vulnerable to the cellulitis and some that never have an infection...

    1. Gosh Helen, I'd forgotten you were one of the unlucky ones. It's the speed of the infection that I'm amazed by. I haven't heard that some types of lymphoedema are more prone to it, you are teaching me so much!

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