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Cellulitis
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Cellulitis

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WOMEN'S HEALTH

Hair/Nails/Skin

Cellulitis is an infection of the skin and the layer of tissue under theskin.

Skin on the lower legs or face is most commonly affected by this infection, though cellulitis can occur on any part of your skin. It tends to affect a fairly large area of skin. Cellulitis is usually due to an infection of the skin with bacteria, but it may also be caused by a fungus. The infection may only be superficial, but it may also affect the tissues underlying your skin and can spread to your lymph nodes and bloodstream.

Left untreated, the spreading bacterial infection may rapidly turn into a life-threatening condition. That's why it's important to recognize the signs and symptoms of cellulitis and to seek immediate medical attention if they occur.

Signs and symptoms

Cellulitis may result in skin that is:

  • Red

  • Swollen

  • Tender

  • Warm

The changes in your skin may be accompanied by a fever. Over time, the area of redness tends to expand. Small red spots may appear on top of the reddened skin, and less commonly, small blisters may form and burst.

Causes

Cellulitis occurs when one or more types of bacteria enter through a crack or break in your skin. The two most common types of bacteria that cause cellulitis are streptococcus and staphylococcus.

Although cellulitis can occur anywhere on your body, the most common location is the legs, especially near your shins and ankles. Disrupted areas of skin, such as where you've had recent surgery, cuts, puncture wounds, an ulcer, athlete's foot or dermatitis, serve as the most likely areas for bacteria to enter.

Certain types of insect or spider bites also can transmit the bacteria that start the infection. Areas of dry, flaky skin also can be an entry point for bacteria, as can swollen skin.

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This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.
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