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What causes cellulitis

1-minute read

Cellulitis is caused by a bacterial infection. A beta-haemolytic streptococcus (strep) and Staphylococcus aureus (staph) are the most common bacteria involved. More infections these days are due to strains of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

The infection usually occurs when bacteria enter the skin through an ulcer, cut, a scratch or an insect bite. It can also happen when there is already a skin problem like eczema, psoriasis, scabies or acne, or after surgery. However it can occur without any visible damage to the skin. A common cause of cellulitis is scratching the skin with fingernails that carry an infection.

Some people are more likely than others to get cellulitis. People are more likely to get cellulitis if they have a skin condition that makes them itchy and are more likely to scratch.

People are also more likely to get cellulitis if they have swelling in an arm or leg such as with lymphoedema. have poor circulation or have a weak immune system. Having diabetes can put a person at higher risk of cellulitis.

Follow the links below to find trusted information about cellulitis.

Last reviewed: September 2018

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Cellulitis

Cellulitis is an infection of the skin caused by bacteria, usually Staphylococcus aureus (also called Staph) and Group A beta haemolytic streptococcus. These bacteria live on the skin and may enter an area of broken skin like a cut or scratch and cause an infection in the tissue under the skin.

Read more on Queensland Health website

Dissecting cellulitis of the scalp - ACD

Dissecting cellulitis of the scalp is a rare condition in which pus-filled lumps develop on the scalp, resulting in scarring and permanent hair loss over the area affected.

Read more on Australasian College of Dermatologists website

Cellulitis in children and teenagers | Raising Children Network

Cellulitis is a skin infection that can start from a tiny scratch. If your child has cellulitis symptoms, he should see a GP because he needs antibiotics.

Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website

Cellulitis - Better Health Channel

Cellulitis is a bacterial infection of the skin that occurs most commonly on the lower legs and in areas where the skin is damaged or inflamed.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Bacterial skin and soft tissue infections | Issue 5 | Volume 39 | Australian Prescriber

Knowing when antibiotics are needed, and when to consider hospital referral are important in appropriate management of skin infections.

Read more on Australian Prescriber website

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Read more on Australasian Lymphology Association website

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Infection with Hib bacteria can lead to serious illness including meningitis and epiglottitis. With the introduction of Hib vaccine these conditions are now rare. Urgent treatment is necessary as Hib disease can be life threatening.

Read more on NSW Health website

Frequently Asked Questions about Lymphoedema

Read more on Australasian Lymphology Association website

Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) | myVMC

Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a severe bacterial infection. It is resistant to common antibiotic treatments and difficult to treat.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Acne keloidalis nuchae (AKN) - ACD

Acne Keloidalis Nuchae (AKN) is a chronic, inflammatory condition that most commonly affects hair follicles on the back of the neck in patients with skin of colour (coloured skin).

Read more on Australasian College of Dermatologists website

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