Cellulitis - Treatments

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How is cellulitis diagnosed, and what is the treatment for cellulitis?

First, it is crucial for the doctor to distinguish whether or not the inflammation is due to an infection. The history and physical exam can provide clues in this regard, as can sometimes an elevated white blood cell count. A culture for bacteria may also be of value, but in many cases of cellulitis, the concentration of bacteria may be low and cultures fail to demonstrate the causative organism. In this situation, cellulitis is commonly treated with antibiotics that are designed to eradicate the most likely bacteria to cause the particular form of cellulitis.

When it is difficult or impossible to distinguish whether or not the inflammation is due to an infection, doctors sometimes treat with antibiotics just to be sure. If the condition does not respond, it may need to be addressed by different methods dealing with types of inflammation that are not infected. For example, if the inflammation is thought to be due to an autoimmune disorder, treatment may be with a corticosteroid.

Antibiotics, such as derivatives of penicillin or other types of antibiotics that are effective against the responsible bacteria, are used to treat cellulitis. If the bacteria turn out to be resistant to the chosen antibiotics, or in patients who are allergic to penicillin, other appropriate antibiotics can be substituted. Sometimes the treatment requires the administration of intravenous antibiotics in a hospital setting, since oral antibiotics may not always provide sufficient penetration of the inflamed tissues to be effective. In certain cases, intravenous antibiotics can be administered at home.

In all cases, physicians choose a treatment based upon many factors, including the location and extent of the infection, the type of bacteria causing the infection, and the overall health status of the patient.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: ernie, 55-64 Female Published: February 24

I have experienced frequent urination problems for years. Recently, while driving in late January, I experienced a severe urge to urinate. I stopped to alleviate. I was only able to slowly urinate. About 15 to 30 minutes later I had the same problem. After small urination I felt relieved. I made it to where our daughter lives. I developed a 101 fever. Then I couldn't urinate, and went to the emergency room. They did bloodwork and inserted a catheter. I took Cipro and cephalexin and the infection cleared up. I went back to my urologist. I am taking tamsulosin and finasteride, and scheduled for surgery in April. I still have catheter. Infection is not due to urinary tract infection; possibly, infection in other parts of body or prostatitis.

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Comment from: Mo, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: April 05

I didn't know what I had till my partner saw my leg. It was very hot and red. I went to the emergency room and they gave me antibiotics. I had to stay overnight to see if the antibiotics took, and they did. They let me go home and it cleared up in a few days.

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