Cellulitis is a bacterial skin condition that is potentially serious and therefore treatment should be sought at the earliest when symptoms appear. Most physicians provide diagnosis based on a physical examination of the affected area alone, though in some cases a bacterial culture is observed to target the specific bacteria.
This practice, of ascertaining the type of bacteria responsible for cellulitis, is recent because of late the management of cellulitis has become somewhat more complicated. The increasing rates of methicilin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus and erythromycin or macrolide-resistant Streptococcus Pyogenes in cellulitis patients have rendered several traditional medical remedies redundant.
In almost 90% of the cases, where the condition is diagnosed in time and not too severe, cellulite is treated using orally administered antibiotics.
- The antibiotics commonly prescribed to treat cellulitis are penicillin, cerfuroxime, dicloxacillin, flucloxacillin or erythromycin. These attack the bacteria and quell the infection, thus providing relief from the symptoms at a gradual pace.
- Often oral probenecid is also given in order to ensure that the antibiotic levels in the blood do not drop.
- For individuals with a more complex medical condition, whereby other conditions such as diabetes or foot ulcers are compounded by the appearance of cellulitis, broad antibiotic cover is prescribed.
- Over-the-counter painkillers are also given when the pain in affected regions is quite severe.
- For most individuals, the treatment takes place at home. However, in more complicated cases – where the infection is severe, high fever persists or the patient has a history of cellulitis – hospitalization may be advised. In this scenario, intravenous antibiotics are let into the blood stream directly via injections or a drip.
While these are the common modes of treatment in the medical domain, certain practices at home can also provide relief from symptoms. In fact, several measures are encouraged by doctors themselves and are known to aid the recovery process significantly.
Patients of cellulitis should ensure that they are doing everything possible to shorten the duration of recovery and ensure that the infection does not recur. They can thus take some self-care measures with the same prerogative.
- A lot of water should be consumed to avoid dehydration caused by medication.
- The affected area should be kept elevated if possible, especially if the afflicted region is any of the limbs. This lessens the swelling and helps alleviate pain as well.
- Avoidance of activities that may cause other skin related affliction, is absolutely necessary. Further cuts and scrapes increase the risk of severe cellulitis or a recurrence of the disease.
- Wearing loose fitting clothes helps prevent further chaffing, pain and aggravation of the infected skin.
- Maintaining good hand hygiene while also keeping the skin surrounding the affected region well-moisturised can help with relief from the surface symptoms.
Duration of Treatment
Typically, an episode of cellulitis takes anywhere between 7 to 14 days to be cured completely. However, in most patients, there is relief from the most visible symptoms within 3 to 4 days of the antibiotics course.
If a patient’s condition worsens in the first 48 hours since first dosage, prompt consultation with the consulting physician is recommended. This could mean that the infection has spread from the skin to the bloodstream or lymphatic system, in which circumstances, more potent antibiotics need be prescribed.
Also, patients who have a history of recurrent cellulitis or seem more vulnerable to another bout are often prescribed antibiotics for a longer duration spanning many weeks. Thus, even as the treatment for cellulitis is mostly standardized, variations occur based on each individual’s condition and medical history. Hence it is very important to keep the consulting physician informed of the patient’s progress so he can ensure that effective and optimal medical remedies are being administered.