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What Are the Symptoms of a Leg Infection?

By Madeleine A.
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Symptoms of a leg infection include redness, swelling, and pain. In addition, clear or bloody drainage can occur, as can itching and an increase in temperature over the infected area. If the localized infection is not adequately treated, a systemic infection may occur. When this happens, the patient may experience generalized weakness, fatigue, and fever. Medical evaluation and prompt treatment needs to be instituted to avoid major complications, such as damage to the kidneys, liver, or heart.

Certain medical conditions can predispose a person to a leg infection. People with diabetes may be more susceptible to soft tissue infections, including those of the leg. In certain individuals with diabetes, the healing process is less efficient than in those without the condition. Therefore, if a diabetic injures his foot or ankle, the injury may be resistant to treatment, increasing the risk for a leg infection. Sometimes diabetes alters sensitivity to pain, rendering the patient unaware of an injury or infection.

Treatment for infections includes oral antibiotics, and in some cases, topical antibiotics. Sometimes, if the leg infection is severe, the physician may need to perform a wound culture of the infection site to determine which type of bacterial organism is responsible for the infection. This medical test is called a "culture and sensitivity" test and it tells the physician what the offending organism is and which antibiotic will be sensitive to that organism. If an antibiotic is not sensitive to an organism, it will be ineffective in treating the infection.

Occasionally, depending on the type and severity of the infection, they physician may recommend the application of sterile dressings. These dressings typically need to be changed when they become soiled or when the application of the topical antibiotic ointment needs to be re-applied. If the patient does not feel comfortable changing his own wound dressing, he can return to his physician, who will change the dressing and evaluate the progress of wound healing.

Overcoming infections may including taking certain vitamins on a daily basis. Vitamin C is an antioxidant frequently prescribed to help heal wounds, especially in the elderly or in diabetics. Other ways of overcoming infections include getting adequate rest, drinking plenty of fluids, and following the physician's treatment plan. If, however, despite adequate treatment and medical follow-up, the infection still remains, the person may need to be hospitalized to receive a course of intravenous antibiotic therapy.

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Discussion Comments
By anon1003534 — On Jul 16, 2020

I have a concern that has to do with experiencing some symptoms of cold in the leg whether it leads to infection to areas around the penis.

By rburow — On Feb 03, 2014

People should know that staph does not always come about following an open would or sore. Sometimes it is impossible to figure out where the staph originated.

By Ahmerus — On Feb 02, 2014

No one has mentioned the heightened risk to diabetics and individuals with weak immune systems.

By Jewellian — On Feb 01, 2014

Cellulitis can be treated with antibiotics. Anyone with a staph/skin infection must have cellulitis treatment. It is imperative to block the transmission of the staph, which is highly contagious, and also to block the spread to other parts of the body.

By SpecialBug — On Jan 31, 2014

Not only does infection endanger the kidneys, liver and heart, but an infection that goes untreated can also endanger the brain. An infection, any infection anywhere in the body should not be ignored. The most common infection that most people consider to be extremely dangerous is staph. A staph infection in the leg will spread to other parts of the body. Staph is short for staphylococcus, a bacteria. It is not that uncommon. 25% of people carry the bacteria, but the danger lies in the staph that is resistant to antibiotics. Antibiotics are losing effectiveness in the United States, because of widespread use. The most common staph forms in the skin and is known as a cellulitis infection.

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