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 are causes of cellulitis are streptococcus and staphylococcus. 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. Areas of dry, flaky skin also can be an entry point for bacteria, as can swollen skin.
Feb. 23, 2012
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- Stevens DL. Infections of the skin, muscles, and soft tissues. In: Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Medical; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4. Accessed Nov. 10, 2011.
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- Gibson LE (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Nov. 16, 2011.
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