Author: Selena Belisle, Owner/Instructor, CE Institute LLC, Miami FL
Cellulitis is a common, potentially serious bacterial skin infection. Cellulitis is much different than cellulite, which is a non-life threatening cosmetic condition.
In bacterial cellulitis, the affected skin appears swollen and red and is typically painful and warm to the touch. Left untreated, the infection can spread to your lymph nodes and bloodstream and rapidly become life-threatening. It isn't usually spread from person to person. It is important to obtain an early diagnosis for cellulitis, because the condition can spread rapidly throughout the body.liii
Cellulitis occurs when bacteria, most commonly streptococcus and staphylococcus, enter through a crack or break in the skin. The incidence of a more serious staphylococcus infection called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is increasing.[i] Cellulitis is often treated through a simple course of antibiotics.
In this photo (below), this person has presented with staphylococcal orbital cellulitis. Note the periorbital swelling and erythema. The symptoms associated with cellulitis can evolve and worsen due to systemic bacterial migration via the bloodstream, and include fever, malaise, and chills.[ii]
Bacterial cellulitis is not considered highly infectious because it is an infection of the deeper layers of the body (the dermis and subcutaneous tissue). The epidermis provides a “protective covering” for this infection.
Personal service workers should use caution in working with someone who has bacterial cellulitis. This is a medical condition that can spread rapidly throughout the body once someone has this infection.
Services such as waxing or body scrubs, which could compromise or break the epidermis and possibly lead to further infection are not advised until the bacterial cellulitis has been medically treated. Further massage, spa or salon services that could increase blood circulation such as heat or body wraps should also be avoided. Bacterial cellulitis can spread (and is made worse) through blood circulation. Increasing a client’s circulation with bacterial cellulitis is ill-advised.
Author Selena Belisle is the Founder of CE Institute LLC in Miami FL. She is a retired professional athlete and has been practicing massage therapy for over 30 years. Selena is an approved CE Provider with NCBTMB & the Florida Board of Massage. She now teaches full time for the Complementary and Alternative Health Care Industries. You can learn more about Selena’s training and CE classes at www.CeInstitute.com
[i] Mayo Clinic Staff. “Cellulitis.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 10 Apr. 2018, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cellulitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20370762.
[ii] Sellers, Dr. Thomas F. , Emory University. “Public Health Image Library (PHIL).” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20 Dec. 2017, phil.cdc.gov/Details.aspx?pid=2843.