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Cellulitis is Treated with Antibiotics

CELLULITIS, and similar infections, are frequent complications of lymphedema. These infections must be treated promptly to prevent the infection from spreading throughout the body and to minimize any further tissue damage.

Untreated infections can trigger a systemic inflammatory response known as sepsis.

These infections include: 

  • infections of the head and neck, or  
  • antibiotic resistant infections

SEPSIS is an illness in which the body has a severe response to bacteria and other germs. Prompt diagnosis and treatment of this condition is important because one-third of people who get sepsis die from it.

As lymphedema progresses without proper treatment, cellulitis infections can become more frequent and increasingly difficult to treat.

INFECTION SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

[ skin infected by cellulitis ]

Cellulitis is an infection of the skin characterized by

  • tenderness or pain,
  • redness and inflammation (erythema), and
  • elevated skin temperature.

There may be red streaks along the lymphatic vessels near the surface of the skin plus:

  • Generalized swelling in the affected limb,
  • Enlarged lymph nodes.
  • Visible skin changes such as redness that preceded or are accompanied by feeling sick (malaise), fever, and chills.

  

CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY
IF YOU HAVE ANY SIGNS OF CELLULITIS. 

 

CELLULITIS ANNOUNCES LYMPHEDEMA

A cellulitis infection is often the first sign that someone has developed lymphedema. This is particularly true after breast cancer treatment.

  • Skin infections, including cellulitis, are relatively rare in the overall population.
  • When an individual who has not been diagnosed with lymphedema develops cellulitis, this individual should be reevaluated for lymphedema.

OTHER FORMS OF LYMPHEDEMA RELATED INFECTIONS

Many experts consider cellulitis and erysipelas are considered to be different presentations of the same condition .

  • Cellulitis is an infection of the tissues below the surface of the skin (subcutaneous tissues).
  • Erysipelas is an infection of the surface layer of the skin (cutaneous tissues) and is almost always accompanied by blistering.
  • Lymphangitis is an infection of the lymphatic vessels that
    may accompany a skin infection. It may also be a sign that a skin infection is spreading into the bloodstream.

Prompt treatment is essential in minimizing the risk of sepsis

and to prevent damage to the lymphatic vessels that will make lymphedema worse.

ANTIBIOTICS FOR CELLULITIS

For uncomplicated Streptococcus Group A infections the following antibiotics are effective and frequently utilized:

  • Pen-V (penicillin V)
  • For patients who are allergic to penicillin
    these antibiotics may be used:
    Erythromycin,
    Clarithromycin, or
    Azithromycin.

Facial cellulitis should be treated aggressively for MRSA until bacterial sensitivity information is available. These antibiotics are frequently used:

  • First line: Vancomycin
  • Second line: Daptomycinor Linezolid

Cellulitis usually goes away with antibiotic treatment for 7-10 days. Longer treatment may be needed if cellulitis is more severe, drug resistant, or if your immune system is not working properly.

PREVENTING CELLULITIS

In order to reduce the risk of recurring infections:

  • Treat lymphedema and reduce swelling as much as possible.
  • Treat any open wounds, burns, or scrapes immediately.
  • Treat athletes foot (Tinea Pedis) and any other yeast or fungal infections that may cause breaks in the skin and open a portal for infection.

If you have more than three episodes of cellulitis in a year, ask your health care provider if your situation warrants using suppressive antibiotics.

@ Lymph Notes 2014. The advice of a physician should be considered over the information presented in this article.

Got a question or comment? Post in the 'Lymphedema Treatment' forum.
Category: How Lymphedema is Treated Updated: 2014-10-01


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