The term “cellulitis” is often confused with cellulite, or “orange peel skin”. Cellulitis on the other hand, which many women suffer from, stems from an inflammation of the dermis, subcutaneous tissue and subcutaneous fat tissue. The depth of the infection varies from person to person. On the area of inflammation, the skin is red, swollen and painful. This is often accompanied by fever and a general ill feeling.
Cellulitis and cellulite: what is the difference?
The term “cellulitis” is often confused with ”cellulite“, also known as orange peel skin. About 90% of women suffer from lumpy skin on their thighs and buttocks. However, this – cellulite – is a harmless cosmetic problem that is caused by fat deposits in the skin and the underlying connective tissue. Cellulite occurs almost exclusively in women, although it has also been observed in men and to a lesser extent in children.
Unlike cellulite, cellulitis is not a harmless condition. The bacteria that cause cellulitis can cause considerable damage to the deeper skin layers. The most common form of cellulitis is erysipelas. Cellulitis is usually found on the arms and legs, but can also occur in other places on the body and the face. Annually, 1.9% of the people who visit a doctor are diagnosed with cellulitis.
Causes of cellulitis and cellulite
The inflammation of the dermis and the subcutaneous fat tissue is caused by bacteria. In many cases, staphylococcus aureus is the causative agent, but streptococci and other bacteria can also cause cellulitis, sometimes in combination. The infection often occurs after sustaining an (unnoticed) small wound or damaged skin, allowing the bacteria to invade the body. People with a weakened immune system are at a slightly greater risk of developing an infection
This has a hormonal cause. The female body produces a lot of oestrogen, and this, as well as stress, smoking, physical inactivity and an unhealthy diet, plays a part in the development of cellulite. Men have far less oestrogen in their bodies, which explains why they rarely suffer from cellulite. Despite what many people think, the appearance of cellulite has nothing to do with weight.
Treatment for cellulitis and cellulite
Since it is caused by a bacterium, cellulitis treatment consists of the administration of antibiotics. To prevent serious injury, cellulitis infections have to be treated as soon as possible. Untreated cellulitis can spread to the muscles, and can also lead to blood poisoning, or the death of the affected tissue. Because the disease agent and the severity of the infection on the outside of the skin are not always easy to assess, it is often chosen to administer a strong antibiotic or combinations of different ones. This increases the likelihood that the disease-causing agents react to the treatment and that the infection decreases.
Cellulite, however, is not completely curable. Even with liposuction – the removal of the fat cells – a reduction of only 70% can be achieved. A healthy diet, a lot of exercise and firm massages can help reduce cellulite. This stimulates the body to eliminate moisture, fat and waste. It is important that you drink plenty of water to enable your body to dispose of the waste.
Prevent cellulitis and cellulite
If cellulitis is treated in time, you will recover fully. It can happen that the area of the infection always remains red and swollen or that the infection comes back after a while. To prevent such inflammation, you are advised to regularly check your skin for lesions or red spots. If you do have a wound, disinfect it thoroughly. If you notice pain or that the red spot has expanded, see your GP for advice.
Cellulite cannot always be prevented, since the cause is hormonal. Yet with a healthy diet, the absorption of lots of water, regular exercise and regular massages, you can reduce orange peel skin and avoid complications.