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Cellulitis

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Treatment for Cellulitis continued...

If the infection isn’t too bad, you can take antibiotics by mouth for a week to 14 days. Your doctor will schedule a follow-up appointment. Your doctor may use IV or intramuscular antibiotics if:

  • The infection is severe.
  • You have other medical problems.
  • You are very young or very old.
  • The cellulitis covers large areas, is on your hands, or is close to body parts like your eyes.
  • The infection worsens even after taking antibiotics for 2 to 3 days.

In serious cases, you may need to stay in the hospital. You’ll get IV antibiotics until the infection is under control (2 to 3 days), and then go home with oral medicines.

Surgery for Cellulitis

Rarely, severe cases may need surgery. For example, doctors may need to open and drain an abscess or collect pus in the tissue. They may also need to cut away dead tissue to allow healing.

Prevention of Cellulitis

  • Practice good personal hygiene and keep your skin clean.
  • Wear sturdy, well-fitting shoes or slippers with loose-fitting cotton socks. Avoid walking barefoot outdoors.
  • Wash injured skin with soap and water. Make sure it heals over the next few days.

Some injuries are at greater risk for cellulitis than others. Be sure to contact your doctor if you have:

  • Animal or human bites
  • Puncture wounds deeper than a half-inch, such as from stepping on a nail
  • Crushed tissue that bleeds
  • Burns that blister
  • Frostbite
  • Deep injuries with dirt in them
  • Injuries that touch sea water (making them more prone to infection), especially if you have liver disease
  • Diabetes or other significant medical conditions, such as liver or kidney disease
  • Swelling in your arms and legs that does not go away

Outlook for Cellulitis

Most people with cellulitis respond to the antibiotics in 2 to 3 days and begin to improve. In rare cases, the cellulitis may spread through the bloodstream and become serious. Even more rarely, surgery is required to drain an abscess or remove dead tissue.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Stephanie S. Gardner, MD on September 02, 2014
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