INTRODUCTION Skin is the major interface between humans and their environment, in part functioning as a primary physical barrier against infection. When broached, local infection ensues. Dissemination of the infectious process is dependent upon the depth of the infection, access to vascular/lymphatic channels, and host defense deficits. Infections cross into deeper tissues when the integrity of the stratum corneum is disturbed. The hair follicle may also serve as a portal ofentry to these subepithelial regions for bacteria residing on the skin surface. The rich plexus of capillaries beneath the dermal papillae may provide access to the general circulation. Additionally, the skin and its structures may be the receptacle of infection, as pathogens disseminate from the bloodstream, lymphatics, or direct contact with infected areas.