Geetha Patil and Dr. Kiran Rathod
Cellulitis is a common bacterial skin infection that causes redness, swelling, and pain in the infected area of the skin and feels warm to the touch. Cellulitis is a painful and potentially dangerous skin infection.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cellulitis affects millions of people worldwide each year, posing a substantial healthcare burden. Cellulitis is usually a superficial infection of the skin. However, if severe or if left untreated, it can spread into the lymph nodes and bloodstream and rapidly become life threatening. It usually affects the lower legs, but it can occur on the face, arms and other areas. The infection happens when a break in the skin allows bacteria to enter. It is not usually spread from person to person.
Most cellulitis is nonpurulent. However, cellulitis sometimes is accompanied by one or more pustules (rounded swelling), furuncles (boils), or abscesses with or without purulent (discharging pus) drainage or exudate and is referred to as purulent. Fever, chills, tachycardia, headache, hypotension, and delirium (usually indicating severe infection) may precede cutaneous findings by several hours, but many patients do not appear ill. Leukocytosis (high white blood cell count) is common. Cellulitis with rapid spread of infection, rapidly increasing pain, hypotension, delirium, or skin sloughing, particularly with bullae and fevers, suggests life-threatening infection.
In Ayurveda, cellulitis is referred to as an imbalance between three doshas, along with the accumulation of toxins (ama) in the body. Low Vyadhikshamatwa (immunity) is also one of the causes of cellulitis. This imbalance disrupts the natural equilibrium of the skin, leading to inflammation, pain, and infection.
What are the symptoms of Cellulitis?
Cellulitis usually occurs on one side of the body. Its signs and symptoms may include an irritated area of skin that tends to expand, swelling, tenderness, pain, warmth, fever, chills, spots, blisters, skin dimpling
What are the causes of Cellulitis?
Cellulitis is caused when bacteria, most commonly streptococcus and staphylococcus, enter through a crack or break in the skin. Cellulitis can occur anywhere on the body, but the most common location is the lower leg. Bacteria are most likely to enter broken, dry, flaky or swollen skin, such as through a recent surgical site, cuts, puncture wounds, ulcers, and athlete’s foot or atopic dermatitis (eczema). Weakened immune system such as diabetes, leukemia and HIV/AIDS — increase the risk of infection. Having had cellulitis before increases the risk of getting it again. Excess weight increases the risk of developing cellulitis.
What is Recurrent and Chronic Cellulitis?
Recurrent and chronic cellulitis is a condition characterized by frequent recurrences or incomplete healing of cellulitis. Poor circulation, a weakened immune system, and underlying medical conditions like diabetes and obesity can contribute to its persistence. Research published indicates that around 30% of individuals who experience an initial cellulitis episode may have a recurrence within three years.
What are the best Ayurvedic remedies for treating Cellulitis?
Neglected cellulitis can lead to severe complications, surgery including the need for amputation in some cases. Timely and appropriate management is crucial to prevent such outcomes. Now, let’s delve into the Ayurvedic approach for treating cellulitis.
- Dietary Recommendations: Research indicates that a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods, such as fresh vegetables and fruits, can help reduce inflammation and support healing.
- Herbal Remedies:Ayurveda recommends various herbs with anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Studies have shown that specific herbs like neem and turmeric can strengthen the immune system and aid in infection control.
- Panchakarma: Panchakarma therapies, such as Virechana (purgation therapy) and Basti (enema therapy), can effectively remove toxins from the body and improve overall health. These therapies are customized based on individual needs.
- Lifestyle Modifications: Lifestyle changes, including stress management and regular exercise, can enhance overall well-being and prevent cellulitis recurrence.
- External Therapies: Ayurvedic oils and poultices, including treatments like Dhaavan (washing), Vranshodhan (wound cleansing), and Vranropana (wound healing), have been shown to reduce inflammation and promote skin healing.
- Blood Purification: Ayurvedic herbs like Manjishta, Sariva, Vakeri, Jitsaya and Chopchini, aid in blood purification, crucial for managing cellulitis and preventing complications.
- Leech Application: In certain cases, leech therapy may be employed to improve circulation and assist in the healing process.
- Yoga and Meditation: Statistical data supports the benefits of yoga and meditation in reducing stress and strengthening the immune system.
- Hygiene and Skin Care: Proper hygiene and skincare practices are essential in preventing recurrent cellulitis. Ayurvedic skincare products may be beneficial.
- Watch for signs of infection: Irritation, pain and pus all signal possible infection and the need for medical care.
People with diabetes or poor circulation need to take extra precautions to prevent skin injury.
- Regularly check your feet for signs of injury so that you can avoid catching infections early.
- Lubricate skin helps prevent cracking and peeling. Do not apply moisturizer to open sores.
- Trim your fingernails and toenails carefully.
- Protect your hands and feet. Wear footwear and gloves suitable to your activities.
- Promptly treat infections on the skin’s surface, such as athlete’s foot. Minor skin infections can easily spread from person to person. Treat fungal infections as soon as they occur.
What are the best Homeopathic remedies for treating Cellulitis?
- Belladonna is a normal medicine for cellulitis where the skin s extremely red and swollen giving it a sparkling appearance.
- Apis Mellifica is recommended for cellulitis during swelling of the affected zone along with a burning and singling pain
- Pyrogenium for Septicaemia is given as an external remedy for treating septicemia when patient has fever with chills.
- Calendula Officinalis is the best remedy for cellulitis that has come after surgical cuts.
- Ledum Palustre holds a very good mage in treating those cases of cellulitis resulting from insect bites.
- Silicea for treating cellulitis when blisters show up on the skin.
- Rhus Tox is given in cellulitis after burn injury.
- Carbolic acid is for cellulitis after deep burn injuries.
- Cantharis can be used after burn injury with water-filled blisters, with intense stinging burning pain as a guiding symptom.
- Sulphur is to be given to older people with cellulitis.
(Authors: Geetha Patil, Drug Safety Director, Cambridge, MA and Dr. Kirankumar Rathod, Director, Edox Health care Pvt. Ltd, Homeopathic Consultant, Kalaburagi & Pune, India)
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