Cellulitis and erysipelas are infections of the skin and the tissues just below the skin surface. Any area of the skin can be affected but the leg is the most common site. A course of antibiotic medication will usually clear the infection. If you have a cellulitis of the leg, as much as possible keep your foot raised higher than your hip. This helps to prevent excess swelling, which may ease pain. Examples of how to raise your leg in this way are given below.
Cellulitis is an infection of the deep layer of skin (dermis) and the layer of fat and tissues just under the skin (the subcutaneous tissues).
Erysipelas is an infection of the skin which is nearer to the skin surface (more superficial) than cellulitis.
In reality, it is difficult to tell how deep an infection is, so cellulitis and erysipelas are much the same thing.
The skin is a good barrier against infection. However, a break in the skin from a cut, skin ulcer, injection, athlete’s foot, scratch, etc, is a way in which germs (bacteria) can get into and under the skin. A tiny cut is all that is needed to allow bacteria in.
We all have some bacteria that live on our skin which normally do not cause any problems. However, if your skin is damaged or broken in some way, the bacteria can get in. The bacteria may then multiply and spread along under the skin surface to cause an infection. A cut, graze, etc, is found in many cases to be the root cause. However, sometimes the infection occurs for no apparent reason with no break in the skin found. Various different types of bacteria can cause cellulitis.