Cellulitis - Treatment Overview
The intent of
cellulitis treatment is to decrease the severity of
the infection, speed up recovery, relieve pain and other symptoms, heal the
skin, and prevent the infection from coming back.
Antibiotics are usually used to treat cellulitis. If
the infection is limited to a small area, has not spread to the bloodstream or
lymph system, and you don't have any other medical
problems, antibiotics you take by mouth (oral) are effective. If the infection
is more widespread, or if you're having a slow recovery on oral antibiotics,
antibiotics may be used
intravenously (IV) or by injection.
cellulitis of the leg or arm, treatment also includes elevating the limb to
Treatment for children depends on their age and
which part of the body is infected. An antibiotic is usually given
intravenously. Facial cellulitis in young children requires immediate treatment
and responds well to antibiotics.1
Treatment sometimes requires a stay in the hospital. This is common if
antibiotics must be given intravenously. But a hospital stay is also considered if you have
signs of complications such as a high fever or if it will be hard for you
to have follow-up care with a doctor.
Medicines used to treat cellulitis
(applied to the skin), or intravenous antibiotics may be used to treat
cellulitis. The extent of the infection and its location help determine what
type of antibiotic is used.
Oral antibiotics include penicillin, cephalexin, or cefaclor. For people who are allergic to penicillin, a
cephalosporin or erythromycin can be used.
Topical antibiotics (antibiotics that you spread on the skin) may be
used to treat mild cellulitis in some cases.
Intravenous (IV) antibiotics or antimicrobials may be used if the cellulitis is spreading quickly or you have a weakened immune system or a condition like diabetes.
Preventing a recurrence of cellulitis
tends to recur in people who have certain medical conditions that can lead to skin
breakdown, such as
edema (fluid buildup), fungal or bacterial infections,
peripheral arterial disease.
- If you have edema, support stockings and good
skin hygiene may reduce or eliminate recurrence of cellulitis.2
- If you have frequent fungal infections, regular
use of antifungal medicines may help reduce recurrent
- If you are considered very high risk for recurring
cellulitis, taking preventive antibiotics may help.