What is Cellulitis Causes, Incidence and Risk Factors


Cellulitisis is a common bacterial infection that affects the skin and the tissues lying underneath it. Though it can affect any part of the body or the face, it is usually seen along the lower leg. Many types of bacteria are present on our skin all the time, no matter how meticulously we bathe and take care of our skin. If we get a cut or bruise on our skin, the bacteria get a chance to enter the skin and cause an infection and thereby give us a cellulitis infection.

Causes of Cellulitis: The bacteria which are capable of causing this infection are:

Streptococcus, and Staphylococcus

Both these bacteria are also responsible for causing another skin infection: impetigo. Impetigo, however, is an infection of the superficial layers of the skin while cellulitis is more deep rooted. Though streptococcus and staphylococcus have been identified as the main culprits, cellulitis might as well be caused by other bacteria like Streptococcus pneumoniae, haemophilus influenzae, clostridium, etc.

Risk Factors of Cellulitis:

The following are the risk factors of it:

  • Wounds caused by injury or trauma
  • Wounds from a recent surgery
  • Human bites, animal bites, insect bites and stings
  • Dry, flaky skin which develops cracks (through which bacteria can enter the skin)
  • Ulcers or boils on the skin
  • Cracks along the toes or peeling skin between them
  • A weak immune system in the body, which might be due to an HIV infection, etc.
  • A history of peripheral vascular disease
  • Regular and prolonged use of corticosteroids
  • Diabetes

Besides the risk factors listed above, people who have been infected by cellulitis in the past are at a greater risk of getting infected by it yet again.

Incidence of Cellulitis:

Cellulitis is not a gender specific infection- both men and women are at equal risk. Furthermore, it has been found to affect people of all races and ethnic origins. Though it  can affect almost anyone, middle aged and elderly people face a greater risk of getting this infection.

Cellulitis is not contagious, and cannot be transmitted by touch or contact with an infected person. Besides, it can be easily treated with antibiotics- oral or intravenous.