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Antibiotics are the typical treatment for cellulitis. When antibiotics are used, they may be administered orally or through an IV. Oral antibiotics are usually given for 10 to 14 days; intravenous antibiotics are administered for 3 to 5 days. Treatment may also include strategies to prevent recurrence of the infection, such as covering open cuts or scrapes with protective clothing and practicing good skin and nail care.
The goal of cellulitis treatment is to treat the affected area and any underlying conditions that would increase the chance of cellulitis returning. Specific treatments include medications and recurrence prevention.
Antibiotics are the cellulitis treatment of choice. Depending on the severity and location of cellulitis, antibiotics are given either in the hospital, at home, or a combination of these two locations. The severity of cellulitis will also determine whether antibiotics are administered through an IV or orally.
There are a variety of antibiotics that can be used to treat cellulitis. However, you should be sure to tell your healthcare provider if you are allergic to penicillin. Oral antibiotics for cellulitis are usually given for 10 to 14 days; you should see you doctor if the redness has not disappeared after you have finished the antibiotics.
When IV antibiotics are used to treat cellulitis, they are usually given for 3 to 5 days. After a person is treated with IV antibiotics, they are then given oral antibiotics to take for the remainder of their treatment.
Up to 50 percent of people who receive treatment will experience a recurrence of the infection. In order to minimize the likelihood of a cellulitis recurrence, patients should:
- Cover open cuts or scrapes with protective clothing
- Practice good skin and nail care
- Receive treatment for athlete's foot (if present) at the same time as their cellulitis treatment.
Doctors may prescribe antibiotics for longer periods of time for those who continue to get cellulitis.