Tag Archives: Leg Edema

THE DOCTORS 101 CHRONIC SYMPTOMS & CONDITIONS #18: SKIN INFECTIONS

The skin is the protective barrier between the inside of our bodies and the outside world of microorganisms, parasites and toxins. It is often the site of inflammation and infections.

In past times, before the advent of cleanliness and antibiotics, mankind was plagued by erysipelas, boils, carbuncles, and other severe infections of the skin, which are rarely seen now. The beta hemolytic streptococcus and Staphylococcus aureus were ubiquitous in the past, and mostly are contained today.

Severe Infections presently require some skin abnormality, immune deficiency, neglect, animal bite or other breach of skin integrity to be a problem. Antibiotic resistance, however, is allowing some organisms like MERSA to make a comeback.

ECZEMA. or Atopic Dermatitis, was common in my medical practice. This condition weakens the skin barrier, allowing Staphylococcal infection to gain a foothold. In my day, If there were a flare of eczema severity, antibiotics would often help. Leg edema and swelling. such as from heart failure, especially coupled with diabetes and blood vessel disease is also an invitation to infection, such as cellulitis.

Redness, swelling, warmth and pain- the classic rubor, tumor, calor and dolor- as well as swollen local lymph nodes and fever often betray infection of the skin. Please see the recently posted infographic on celulitis.

IMMUNE DEFICIENCY raises the likelihood and risk of severe skin infections. Infection from “flesh-eating bacteria”, often beta hemolytic streptococci in deep tissue planes , is a medical emergency. Immediate surgery is often needed.

Disproportionate PAIN after injury or surgery is often a clue. Certain age groups have characteristic skin infections, such as the scalded skin syndrome of infants, and the acne of adolescents. Viruses, molds, and arthropods can also infect the skin.

Viruses, such as herpes in particular can simulate bacterial infection. Ringworm from fungi is easy to distinguish, but arthropod bites, and especially bee sting can look very much like bacterial infection. Scabies and mite infestation are so itchy as to be distinct.

Topical antibiotics applied on skin breaks like cuts or breaks are useful in preventing infection. These ointments and creams are like “artificial skin”. Once again, prevention is key.

–Dr. C.

HEALTH: “COMPRESSION THERAPY” REDUCES CHRONIC CELLULITIS & LEG EDEMA

New England Journal of Medicine (Aug 13, 2020) – In this small, single-center, nonblinded trial involving patients with chronic edema of the leg and cellulitis, compression therapy resulted in a lower incidence of recurrence of cellulitis than conservative treatment.

The researchers have conducted a single-center, randomized, nonblinded trial that aimed to find out an association between the compression therapy and controlled incidents of chronic edema of the leg and people with cellulitis that can be defined as an infection of the skin that involves subcutaneous tissues or the innermost layer of the skin. Cellulitis can be caused by trauma or scratching of other lesions due to animal or human bites that result in fever, extreme pain, and redness of the skin.

Read more

Read NEJM Study

COMMENTARY

I have been using compression stockings for decades, since the discovery of the difference in color of my feet. An evaluation by a vascular surgeon revealed incompetence in the valve of my left popliteal vein. It wasn’t long before I developed small varicose veins.

Comfortable with PREVENTATIVE MEDICINE after a career in ALLERGY, I started wearing Jobst compression stockings, with 30-40 mm of constrictive force. After a decade or so of daily wearing, my big toes started to overlap my second toes, and I began using toe-spreaders; scissor-toe and hammer-toe were my worry, and I wanted to prevent this discomfort.

After a while, I began to notice that the Jobst stockings tended to bunch my toes together. Also, with the developing arthritis in my fingers, it was increasingly hard to get the 30-40mm stockings on without straining my arthritic hands. I now wear OPEN-TOE 15-20mm compression Medi stockings, which are easier to get on, and don’t bunch up my toes.

I still use the visco-elastic toe spreaders. Now, back to the compression stockings for treatment of cellulitis complicating ankle swelling. Of course it works. Beta Hemolytic Streptococci and Staph aureus like nothing better to feed on than a warm pool of interstitial fluid, which is the juice that comprises the ankle swelling.

And BLOOD CLOTS tend to form in the stagnant pools of blood which aggregates in varicose veins, particularly when you are sitting for a long time, such as during a long airline trip. By all means, use compression stockings if you have ankle edema, or even a condition predisposing to ankle edema like varicose veins. Don’t wait for the complication to develop. Be PROACTIVE, and STAY HEALTHY.

–DR. C