This reddened skin or rash may signal a deeper, more serious infection of the inner layers of skin. Once below your skin, the bacteria can spread rapidly throughout your body, entering your lymph nodes and your bloodstream. Recurrent episodes of cellulitis may actually damage the lymphatic drainage system and cause chronic swelling of the affected extremity.

In rare cases, the infection can spread to the deep layer of tissue called the fascial lining. Flesh-eating strep, also called necrotizing fasciitis, is an example of a deep-layer infection. It represents an extreme emergency.

Feb. 23, 2012