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: Eltorow, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: March 04

My treatment for cellulitis was as follows. After I was admitted to the hospital, I was put on antibiotic drips with Augmentin and Ciprobay. My skin lesions and infection continued for three to four days even after the IV. I oozed yellowish liquid from my skin and wounds. The doctor said it's serum but I just don't know. I had my right leg, ankle and calf cleaned and dressed twice a day. It was extremely painful cleaning the surrounding skin, etc. I had to take Oxycontin to get some relief. After nine days my condition improved enough for me to be discharged.

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Comment from: katie, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: March 20

I had the flu with temperatures of 104 + for two days; and lower temperatures on other days. After getting over the flu I noticed a couple of reddish places on my knee and side of my leg. It started getting bigger so I went to the doctor. He first gave me an ointment which didn"t work. Then two doctors looked at it and immediately sent me for outpatient intravenous injection of the new antibiotic, Cubicin for 4 days. Then I was given oral antibiotics for a week. The intravenous injection was amazing! I am doing well and have learned so much. I had never heard of this cellulitis.

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