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
- Cellulitis. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merck.com/mmpe/print/sec10/ch119/ch119b.html. Accessed Nov. 10, 2011.
- Baddour LM. Cellulitis and erysipelas. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Nov. 10, 2011.
- 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.
- Gunderson CG. Cellulitis: Definition, etiology and clinical features. The American Journal of Medicine. In press. Accessed Nov. 10, 2011.
- Kilburn SA, et al. Interventions for cellulites and erysipelas (review). The Cochrane Collaboration. 2010;6.
- Bailey E, et al. Cellulitis: Diagnosis and management. Dermatologic Therapy. 2011;24:229.
- Eron LJ. In the clinic: Cellulitis and soft tissue infections. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2009;150:1.
- Gibson LE (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Nov. 16, 2011.