Cellulitis is a serious bacterial infection of your skin. The skin may be hot, swollen and tender, and you may also have a fever. It can develop anywhere, but skin on the face and lower legs are most often affected.
Cellulitis starts when bacteria - for example streptococcus or staphylococcus - enter the skin through a crack or cut. From there, the redness and infection will spread. If not treated, the infection can spread to your lymph nodes and bloodstream and it can be deadly.
Some people are especially susceptible to cellulitis, including:
* older people
* people with weakened immune systems
* people with circulatory disease such as Raynaud's phenomenon
Conditions that cause the skin to blister or crack, such as chicken pox or the form of tinea commonly called athlete's foot can also increase your risk.
If you have a rash that's swollen, you should see your doctor right away. Antibiotics may be able to clear the infection, before it spreads further. To prevent cellulitis, it's important to keep your skin well moisturized. If you do develop a cut, blister or crack in the skin, keep it clean, use an antibacterial ointment and change bandages often.