Cellulitis occurs when bacteria, most commonly streptococcus and staphylococcus, enter through a crack or break in your skin. The incidence of a more serious staphylococcus infection called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is increasing.
Although cellulitis can occur anywhere on your body, the most common location is the lower leg. Bacteria is most likely to enter disrupted areas of skin, such as where you've had recent surgery, cuts, puncture wounds, an ulcer, athlete's foot or dermatitis.
Certain types of insect or spider bites also can transmit the bacteria that start the infection. Bacteria can also enter through areas of dry, flaky skin or swollen skin.
Feb. 11, 2015
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- Keller EC, et al. Distinguishing cellulitis from its mimics. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine. 2012;79:547.
- Barbara Woodward Lips Patient Education Center. Cellulitis. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2009.
- Skin care. American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/skin-care.html. Accessed Dec. 8, 2014.
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