Cellulitis | Health Dictionary

In?ammation taking place in cellular tissue, and usually referring to infection in the subcutaneous tissue. A related word, cellulite, which has no medical meaning, is used in the slimming business to refer to excess fatty tissue in the arms, buttocks and thighs. (See ABSCESS; ERYSIPELAS.)


Cellulitis | Health Dictionary

Keywords of this word: Cellulitis


Medicinal Plants Glossary

A localised collection of pus. A minute abscess is known as a PUSTULE; a di?used production of pus is known as CELLULITIS or ERYSIPELAS. An abscess may be acute or chronic. An acute abscess is one which develops rapidly within the course of a few days or hours. It is characterised by a de?nite set of symptoms.

Causes The direct cause is various BACTERIA. Sometimes the presence of foreign bodies, such as bullets or splinters, may produce an abscess, but these foreign bodies may remain buried in the tissues without causing any trouble provided that they are not contaminated by bacteria or other micro-organisms.

The micro-organisms most frequently found are staphylococci (see STAPHYLOCOCCUS), and, next to these, streptococci (see STREPTOCOCCUS) – though the latter cause more virulent abscesses. Other abscess-forming organisms are Pseudomonas pyocyanea and Escherichia coli, which live always in the bowels and under certain conditions wander into the surrounding tissues, producing abscesses.

The presence of micro-organisms is not suf?cient in itself to produce suppuration (see IMMUNITY; INFECTION); streptococci can often be found on the skin and in the skin glands of perfectly healthy individuals. Whether they will produce abscesses or not depends upon the virulence of the organism and the individual’s natural resistance.

When bacteria have gained access – for example, to a wound – they rapidly multiply, produce toxins, and cause local dilatation of the blood vessels, slowing of the bloodstream, and exudation of blood corpuscles and ?uid. The LEUCOCYTES, or white corpuscles of the blood, collect around the invaded area and destroy the bacteria either by consuming them (see PHAGOCYTOSIS) or by forming a toxin that kills them. If the body’s local defence mechanisms fail to do this, the abscess will spread and may in severe cases cause generalised infection or SEPTICAEMIA.

Symptoms The classic symptoms of in?ammation are redness, warmth, swelling, pain and fever. The neighbouring lymph nodes may be swollen and tender in an attempt to stop the bacteria spreading to other parts of the body. Infection also causes an increase in the number of leucocytes in the blood (see LEUCOCYTOSIS). Immediately the abscess is opened, or bursts, the pain disappears, the temperature falls rapidly to normal, and healing proceeds. If, however, the abscess discharges into an internal cavity such as the bowel or bladder, it may heal slowly or become chronic, resulting in the patient’s ill-health.

Treatment Most local infections of the skin respond to ANTIBIOTICS. If pus forms, the abscess should be surgically opened and drained.

Abscesses can occur in any tissue in the body, but the principles of treatment are broadly the same: use of an antibiotic and, where appropriate, surgery.... Medicinal Plants Glossary

Indian Medicinal Plants

(Linn.) Merrill

Family: Bromeliaceae.

Habitat: Native to South America; cultivated mostly in Tamil Nadu, coastal Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Kerala, Karnataka, West Bengal, Tripura and Orissa.

English: Pineapple.

Ayurvedic: Anaanaasa, Bahunetra.

Unani: Anannaas.

Siddha/Tamil: Annanshippazham, Annasi.

Action: Anti-inflammatory (fresh juice used as a gargle for sore throat). A proteolytic enzyme, bromelain, is derived from the stem—anti-inflammatory, smooth muscle relaxant, digester, inhibitor of blood platelet aggregation. (It is used for cellulitis, post-operative oedema, sinusitis and for promoting digestion of proteins.)

Key application: Bromelain, the proteolytic enzyme, is used in acute postoperative and post-traumatic conditions of swellings, especially of the nasal and paranasal sinuses. (German Commission E.) In Europe, a patented tape that contains bromelain is used for debriding escharotic skin. (Internally, bromelain's bioavailability has been questioned.)... Indian Medicinal Plants

Medical Dictionary

(Singular: bacterium.) Simple, single-celled, primitive organisms which are widely distributed throughout the world in air, water, soil, plants and animals including humans. Many are bene?cial to the environment and other living organisms, but some cause harm to their hosts and can be lethal.

Bacteria are classi?ed according to their shape: BACILLUS (rod-like), coccus (spherical – see COCCI), SPIROCHAETE (corkscrew and spiral-shaped), VIBRIO (comma-shaped), and pleomorphic (variable shapes). Some are mobile, possessing slender hairs (?agellae) on the surfaces. As well as having characteristic shapes, the arrangement of the organisms is signi?cant: some occur in chains (streptococci) and some in pairs (see DIPLOCOCCUS), while a few have a ?lamentous grouping. The size of bacteria ranges from around 0.2 to 5 µm and the smallest (MYCOPLASMA) are roughly the same size as the largest viruses (poxviruses – see VIRUS). They are the smallest organisms capable of existing outside their hosts. The longest, rod-shaped bacilli are slightly smaller than the human erythrocyte blood cell (7 µm).

Bacterial cells are surrounded by an outer capsule within which lie the cell wall and plasma membrane; cytoplasm ?lls much of the interior and this contains genetic nucleoid structures containing DNA, mesosomes (invaginations of the cell wall) and ribosomes, containing RNA and proteins. (See illustration.)

Reproduction is usually asexual, each cell dividing into two, these two into four, and so on. In favourable conditions reproduction can be very rapid, with one bacterium multiplying to 250,000 within six hours. This means that bacteria can change their characteristics by evolution relatively quickly, and many bacteria, including Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Staphylococcus aureus, have developed resistance to successive generations of antibiotics produced by man. (METHICILLIN-RESISTANT STAPHYLOCOCCUS AUREUS (MRSA)) is a serious hazard in some hospitals.

Bacteria may live as single organisms or congregate in colonies. In arduous conditions some bacteria can convert to an inert, cystic state, remaining in their resting form until the environment becomes more favourable. Bacteria have recently been discovered in an inert state in ice estimated to have been formed 250 million years ago.

Bacteria were ?rst discovered by Antonj van Leewenhoek in the 17th century, but it was not until the middle of the 19th century that Louis Pasteur, the famous French scientist, identi?ed bacteria as the cause of many diseases. Some act as harmful PATHOGENS as soon as they enter a host; others may have a neutral or benign e?ect on the host unless the host’s natural immune defence system is damaged (see IMMUNOLOGY) so that it becomes vulnerable to any previously well-behaved parasites. Various benign bacteria that permanently reside in the human body are called normal ?ora and are found at certain sites, especially the SKIN, OROPHARYNX, COLON and VAGINA. The body’s internal organs are usually sterile, as are the blood and cerebrospinal ?uid.

Bacteria are responsible for many human diseases ranging from the relatively minor – for example, a boil or infected ?nger – to the potentially lethal such as CHOLERA, PLAGUE or TUBERCULOSIS. Infectious bacteria enter the body through broken skin or by its ori?ces: by nose and mouth into the lungs or intestinal tract; by the URETHRA into the URINARY TRACT and KIDNEYS; by the vagina into the UTERUS and FALLOPIAN TUBES. Harmful bacteria then cause disease by producing poisonous endotoxins or exotoxins, and by provoking INFLAMMATION in the tissues – for example, abscess or cellulitis. Many, but not all, bacterial infections are communicable – namely, spread from host to host. For example, tuberculosis is spread by airborne droplets, produced by coughing.

Infections caused by bacteria are commonly treated with antibiotics, which were widely introduced in the 1950s. However, the con?ict between science and harmful bacteria remains unresolved, with the overuse and misuse of antibiotics in medicine, veterinary medicine and the animal food industry contributing to the evolution of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. (See also MICROBIOLOGY.)... Medical Dictionary

Medical Dictionary

Dracontiasis, or dracunculiasis, is a nematode infection caused by Dracunculus medinensis (guinea-worm). The major clinical problem is secondary infection of the worm track, causing CELLULITIS, SYNOVITIS, epididymo-ORCHITIS, periarticular FIBROSIS, and ARTHRITIS; TETANUS is a potentially lethal complication. CHEMOTHERAPY is unsatisfactory and the time-honoured method of extracting the female adult by winding it around a matchstick remains in use. Surgical treatment may be necessary. Ultimate prevention consists of removing Cyclops spp. from drinking water.... Medical Dictionary

Medical Dictionary

Also known as CELLULITIS. A potentially lethal infection caused by the gram-positive (see GRAM’S STAIN) bacterium Streptococcus pyogenes which has the property of producing dangerous exotoxins. The infection, which starts in the layer of FASCIA under the SKIN, may spread very rapidly, destroying tissue as it spreads. Urgent antibiotic treatment may check the infection, and surgery is sometimes required, but even with treatment patients may die (see STREPTOCOCCUS).... Medical Dictionary

Medical Dictionary

Streptococcus is a variety of gram-positive bacterium (see GRAM’S STAIN; BACTERIA) which under the microscope has much the appearance of a string of beads. Most species are saprophytic (see SAPROPHYTE); a few are PATHOGENIC and these include haemolytic types which can destroy red blood cells in a culture of blood agar. This o?ers a method of classifying the varying streptococcal strains. Alphahaeomolytic streptococci are usually associated with bacterial ENDOCARDITIS. SCARLET FEVER is caused by a ?-haeomolytic streptococcus called S. pyogenes. S. pneumoniae, also called PNEUMOCOCCUS, causes respiratory-tract infections, including PNEUMONIA. S. pyogenes may on its own, or with other bacteria, cause severe NECROTISING FASCIITIS or CELLULITIS in which oedema and death of subcutaneous tissues occur. The infection can spread very rapidly and, unless urgently treated with ANTIBIOTICS and sometimes surgery, death may quickly result. This spread is related to the ability of S. pyogenes to produce toxic substances called exotoxins. Although drug-resistant forms are occurring, streptococcal infections usually respond to treatment with antibiotics.... Medical Dictionary