Cellulitis is a bacterial infection that affects the skin and its underlying tissues. This condition is mostly caused by Streptococcus and Staphylococcus bacteria, though it can be caused by other bacterial strains. This infection affects all individuals irrespective of their age, sex or race, though it is more common in older people. Cellulitis usually appears in broken skin, such as near surgical wounds or ulcers. This condition is non-contagious and is usually treated using intravenous or oral antibiotics.
Treatment of Cellulitis
Treatment of cellulitis is usually geared towards reducing the severity of the condition, speed up healing, ease pain and other associated symptoms, repair the skin and thwart it from recurring.
The decision on whether to use intravenous or oral antibiotics depends on whether the infection has spread to the rest of the body, such as to the lymph system or the bloodstream. If the infection has not spread much, oral antibiotics can prove effective. However, if the infection is proving difficult to treat or is widespread, intravenous antibiotics are a much more recommended treatment option.
To treat the cellulitis of an arm or leg, part of the treatment includes elevating the affected part to ease swelling.
When treating cellulitis in children, the affected body part and their age should be considered. The antibiotic should be administered intravenously. Children with facial cellulitis tend to respond well to antibiotics if treated immediately.
Sometimes, it is necessary for the patient to stay in and be treated in the hospital. This is especially so if the antibiotics have to administer through intravenous means. When deciding on whether to book a stay in the hospital, the patient should consider issues such as ability to access follow-up care with the physician and whether there are complications such as high fever.
Cellulitis can also be treated by draining away an isolated abscess without affecting the surrounding skin tissue.
Medicines used in cellulitis treatment
Intravenous, topical (administered on the skin), or oral antibiotics are used to treat cellulitis. As stated, consideration should be given to the location and the severity of the infection. Drugs used are:
- Oral antibiotics comprise of drugs such as cephalexin, cefaclor, or penicillin. Individuals with known history of allergy to penicillin should use erythromycin or cephalosporin in its place.
- Intravenous antimicrobials or antibiotics are recommended for treating cellulitis that is spreading too fast or if the patient has a weaker immune system due to conditions such as Diabetes or AIDS.
- Topical antibiotics are applied on the skin to treat less severe cellulitis in certain instances.
Preventing cellulitis from recurring
Cellulitis does recur especially in individuals with medical conditions that cause the skin to break up such as edema (buildup of fluid), peripheral arterial disease, diabetes or certain bacterial and fungal infections.
- For patients with edema, proper skin hygiene and support stockings help reduce or prevent cellulitis from recurring.
- Patients presumed to be at high risk of contracting cellulitis should take preventive antibiotics.
- Using antifungal medication on a regular basis may reduce incidences of fungal infections and hence prevent cellulitis.
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