Cellulitis

What are cellulitis risk factors?

Most commonly, cellulitis develops in the area of a break in the skin, such as a cut, small puncture wound, or insect bite. In some cases when cellulitis develops without an apparent skin injury, it may be due to microscopic cracks in the skin that is inflamed or irritated. It may also appear in the skin near ulcers or surgical wounds.

In other circumstances, cellulitis occurs where there has been no skin break at all, such as with chronic leg swelling (edema). A preexisting skin infection, such as athlete's foot (tinea pedis) or impetigo can predispose to the development of cellulitis. Likewise, inflammatory conditions of the skin like eczema, psoriasis, or skin damage caused by radiation therapy can lead to cellulitis.

People who have diabetes or conditions that compromise the function of the immune system (for example, HIV/AIDS or those receiving chemotherapy or drugs that suppress the immune system) are particularly prone to developing cellulitis.

Conditions that reduce the circulation of blood in the veins or that reduce circulation of the lymphatic fluid (such as venous insufficiency, obesity, pregnancy, or surgeries) also increase the risk of developing cellulitis.

Reviewed on 6/10/2014

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