Can bed sores cause cellulitis?

Yes. Cellulitis is a bacterial (usually staph or strep) infection in the skin and the underlying connective tissue that usually is associated with pain, swelling and discoloration.  Patients with open wounds caused by bed sores are susceptible to contracting cellulitis as the wound provides easy access for the bacteria to enter the body.  When left untreated, cellulitis may cause or contribute to other medical complications such as meningitis and sepsis.

Sepsis

Sepsis is a bacterial infection in the bloodstream or body tissues, frequently found in patients with severe bed sores (similarly called: decubitus ulcers, pressure ulcers or pressure sores).  Some patients with sepsis experience a complete inflammation of their body due to infection of blood.   If a person does not respond to medical treatment, they may go into septic shock which can result in organ failure and extreme low blood pressure (hypotension) or decreased blood flow (hypoperfusion).  The mortality rate for patients with sepsis is 20% to 40%.

Meningitis

Meningitis is an infection in the membrane and fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord.  There are two general types of meningitis– viral meningitis and bacterial meningitis.  In order to determine what type of meningitis a person has, a physician must sample the spinal fluid and perform a culture.  Determining the strain of meningitis will determine the type of treatment.

Because of the risk of severe medical complications with cellulitis, it is important for medical facilities to promptly make an accurate diagnosis of the cellulitis (usually with a blood test) and to administer antibiotics.

Bed Sore
Resource Center

Information and medical contact resources for bed sore education and treatment.

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