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Is cellulitis a complication of dermatitis?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

People with dermatitis are at risk for cellulitis because they can transfer bacteria into deeper tissue when they scratch the itchy rash. Cellulitis can develop when bacteria living on the skin and under fingernails enter into the deeper layers of the skin through cracked, dry, broken skin from a dermatitis rash. The bacteria can spread quickly into the bloodstream and travel to other parts of the body. Resisting the urge to scratch, moisturizing the dry rash, and keeping fingernails short and clean can lessen the chance that this will happen. If you notice that your red rash is spreading, it could mean that cellulitis is underway. Contact your doctor immediately because certain strains of bacteria can be life threatening.

Seek a physician’s assistance for medical concerns.

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
While the skin does a pretty good job of guarding us from unwelcome invaders, if defenses are compromised, it doesn’t take much to break through this protective barrier. If you have atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, eczema, or any type of skin rash for that matter, the skin is at greater risk for invasion since those cracks are an invitation for bacteria to move in. Cellulitis is an infection that affects the deeper layers of the skin. If the bacteria enter via a crack due to dermatitis, it can definitely take hold and cause the area to become red, swollen, and painful. It can appear in streaks with borders that can spread quicker than a celebrity rumor. It is warm to the touch and can cause flu-like symptoms. It has the possibility of doing more than look bad; it can spread thru your bloodstream to your heart valve or other organs. See your doc immediately, not tomorrow morning.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.