(Science: dermatology) An acute, diffuse, spreading, oedematous, suppurative inflammation of the deep subcutaneous tissues and sometimes muscle, which may be associated with abscess formation.

It is usually caused by infection of an operative or traumatic wound, burn or other cutaneous lesion by various bacteria, but group a streptococci and staphylococcus aureus are the most common aetiological agents.

cellulitis may also occur in immunocompromised hosts or it may follow erysipelas. It tends to spread to tissue spaces and cleavage planes owing to bacterial elaboration of large amounts of hyaluronidases that, break down polysaccharide ground substance, fibrinolysins that digest fibrin barriers and lecithinases that destroy cell membranes.

clinical manifestations include an area of oedema, warmth and tenderness with indistinct margins.

Compare: erysipelas.

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