Cellulitis is a skin disease caused by bacterial infection, and it can be treated with several different antibiotics. These include amoxicillin, amoxicillin clavulanate, clindamycin, and penicillin. Different generations of cephalosporins are also commonly used to treat cellulitis. Medical professionals usually choose a medication depending on what specific bacteria is causing the infection.
Bacteria can enter the skin whenever a person suffers a cut or scrape. Signs of a cellulitis infection include redness, swelling, pain, and warmth in the affected skin. Swollen lymph nodes, muscle pains, and fever are also usually present. A diagnosis is often based on these symptoms, the pateint's medical history, a physical examination, and on the results of the diagnostic tests performed on such patients. Patients are then prescribed antibiotics for cellulitis.
The antibiotics prescribed for cellulitis caused by Staphylococcus aureus and Group A Streptococcus are clindamycin and cephalexin. These are usually given for mild infections that are often treated at home. Patients are generally advised to take the prescription for 10 to 14 days and to follow up with a medical professional to make sure that the bacteria are successfully treated. In severe cases, where the organisms involved are found to be resistant to methicillin, the same medications are frequently given but with the addition of a combination of trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole.
Depending also on how the infection was transmitted, other antibiotics may also be used. For dog bites where a person may be infected with Pasteurella canis, Streptococcus pyogenes, or Staphylococcus aureus, the medications commonly given are amoxicillin clavulanate, clindamycin with trimethoprim, or sulfamethoxazole. The same medications may also be given for human bites and cat bites. In severe infections caused by dog bites, cat bites, and human bites, third-generation cephalosporin like ceftriaxone, and other stronger antibiotics are frequently given.
Some patients who develop severe or complicated infections may also need to be admitted to the hospital for proper treatment and monitoring. For these patients, the cellulitis is often treated with antibiotics given intravenously. Symptoms of complicated cellulitis include rapid heart rate, low blood pressure, altered thinking, and fever.
Other factors that increase the risk of cellulitis include surgical wounds, insect bites, diabetic ulcers, and cracks or peeling in the skin. The use of some medications, including those that suppress the immune system, can also predispose patients to this condition. If cellulitis is suspected, a patient should go to a medical professional for evaluation in order to be given antibiotics and prevent further complications.