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Cellulitis (cont.)

What Are Causes of Cellulitis?

A number of factors can increase the chance that bacteria may invade the skin and cause infection. These risk factors include the following:

  • Injuries that break the skin
  • Infections related to a surgical wound
  • Any breaks in the skin that allow bacteria to invade the skin (examples are chronic skin conditions such as eczema)
  • Foreign objects in the skin
  • Infection of bone underneath the skin (An example is a long-standing open wound that is deep enough to expose the bone to bacteria. Sometimes this occurs in people with diabetes who have lost sensation in their feet.)
  • Swelling in the legs or arms from varicose veins or after surgery on veins or lymph nodes (lymphedema)
  • Bacteria that typically cause cellulitis include group A Streptococcus and Staphylococcus aureus (also known as staph or staph infection). Some S. aureus infections are resistant to some antibiotics (for example, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA) or prone to causing abscess or collections of pus in the skin.
  • Less common bacteria can cause serious infection from exposure to mud, soil, or water (freshwater or seawater). These bacteria include Vibrio vulnificus, Pseudomonas, and Aeromonas. Tell the doctor if there has been exposure to soil, freshwater, or saltwater.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/19/2016

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Cellulitis is a term that describes the inflammatory response caused by bacteria in the skin below the epidermis.

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