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: DepressedGurl, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: January 14

I was on clindamycin for cellulitis while I was in the hospital for a week, and when I was released I was given Bactrim 800 mg. Both antibiotics worked really great.

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Comment from: craig, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: January 22

I had vasectomy on January 11, 2016. That is almost two weeks ago. I am still recovering. The two visits I have made to the emergency room the doctors were less than helpful. I didn't have much swelling however my sac turned almost black with pass-out pain. I then went to my family doctor. She gave me antibiotics, which helped overnight. She told me it had been twenty years since she had seen anyone take more than three days to recover. Then she informed me that a patient had a testicle removed, to stop the pain. Two days later my sac was light purple. My left side is still swollen. The pain on that side is unbearable still. Bottom line, the surgeon made a mess, and the other local doctors are protecting him.

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