Treatment of Cellulitis
Cellulitis treatment may require hospitalization if it is severe enough to warrant intravenous antibiotics and close observation. At other times, treatment with oral antibiotics and close out-patient follow-up is enough. Treatment is focused on control of the infection and prevention of complications.
Antibiotics are given to control infection, and analgesics may be needed to control pain.
Elevate the infected area, usually higher than the heart, to minimize swelling. Apply warm, moist compresses to the infected site to fight infection by increasing blood circulation to the tissues. Rest until the symptoms improve.
Cure is possible with 7 to 10 days of treatment. Cellulitis may be more severe in people with chronic diseases and people who are susceptible to infection (immunosuppressed).
Complications of Cellulitis
- Tissue death (gangrene)
- Sepsis, generalized infection and shock
- Meningitis (if cellulitis is on the face)
- Lymphangitis (inflammation of the lymph vessels)
Calling your Health Care Provider
Call your health care provider if symptoms indicate that cellulitis may be present.
Call your health care provider if you are being treated for cellulitis and new skin infection symptoms develop, such as persistent fever, drowsiness, lethargy, blistering over the cellulitis, or extension of the red streaks.
Prevention of Cellulitis
Avoid skin damage by wearing appropriate protective equipment when participating in work or sports. Also, clean any breaks in the skin carefully and watch for redness, pain, drainage, or other signs of infection.
Finally, maintain good overall health and control chronic medical conditions. A healthy body can more easily deal with and fight bacteria before they multiply and cause infection, while a body that is run-down has less natural cellulitis infection protection.