Cellulitis is caused by a type of bacteria entering the skin, usually by way of a cut, abrasion, or break in the skin. This break does not need to be visible. Group A ''Streptococcus'' and ''Staphylococcus'' are the most common of these bacteria, which are part of the normal flora of the skin but cause no actual infection while on the skin's outer surface.
Predisposing conditions for cellulitis include insect bite, blistering, animal bite, tattoos, pruritic skin rash, recent surgery, athlete's foot, dry skin, eczema, injecting drugs (especially subcutaneous or intramuscular injection or where an attempted IV injection "misses" or blows the vein), pregnancy, diabetes and obesity, which can affect circulation, as well as burns and boils, though there is debate as to whether minor foot lesions contribute.
The photos shown here of Cellulitis are more severe cases than what can be spotted normally at earlier stages. Usually the itch and/or rash appears a little after it vanishes leaving only a small mark which is commonly ignored.
The appearance of the skin will help a doctor make a diagnosis. The doctor may also suggest blood tests, a wound culture or other tests to help rule out a blood clot deep in the veins of the legs. Cellulitis in the lower leg is characterized by signs and symptoms that may be similar to those of a clot occurring deep in the veins, such as warmth, pain and swelling (inflammation).
This reddened skin or rash may signal a deeper, more serious infection of the inner layers of skin. Once below the skin, the bacteria can spread rapidly, entering the lymph nodes and the bloodstream and spreading throughout the body.
In rare cases, the infection can spread to the deep layer of tissue called the fascial lining. Necrotizing fasciitis, also called by the media "flesh-eating bacteria," is an example of a deep-layer infection. It represents an extreme medical emergency.
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