Prognosis of Cellulitis

By  , Expert Content
Jan 17, 2013

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Cellulitis is a common type of skin infection for which people visit a doctor. It may be caused by a wide range of causes, but infection with bacteria is the most common cause of cellulitis. The two most common bacteria that cause cellulitis are group A streptococcus and staphylococcus.

Prognosis of Cellulitis

Prognosis or outlook for cellulitis is good in most cases if it is diagnosed and treated promptly. Antibiotics are the primary source of treatment for cellulitis. It may be given orally or by intravenous route depending on various factors such as the severity of infection, your overall health and other associated medical conditions. Most people with cellulitis respond well to 7 - 10 days of oral antibiotics. If the infection is severe or you have symptoms suggestive of spread of infection to blood or other parts of the body, you will be admitted to a hospital for treatment. You will be given antibiotics directly into your vein through an injection or a drip (known as intravenous antibiotics).

Some factors that increase the risk of severe infection in cellulitis are:

  • weak immune system (immune system is the body’s natural defence against infection and illness) because of any reason (such as HIV or diabetes or as a side-effect of a treatment such as chemotherapy),
  • lymphoedema (in this condition, swelling occurs in the arms and legs because of collection of fluid in tissues). It may occur spontaneously or after a surgery for some types of cancer and
  • intravenous drug abuse (injecting drugs such as heroin).

If you have any of these conditions, cellulitis may progress rapidly and increasing your chances of developing complications. The presence of risk factors may be an indication of giving intravenous antibiotics.

Some possible complications of cellulitis include:

  • sepsis (infection of blood),
  • bone infection (osteomyelitis),
  • inflammation of the lymph vessels (lymphangitis),
  • inflammation of the heart (endocarditis),
  • meningitis (infection of the membranes covering the brain),
  • shock (severe sepsis with low blood pressure) and
  • tissue death (gangrene).

If you have fungal infections of the feet or an itchy skin condition such as atopic eczema, you may have recurrent cellulitis as the cracks in the skin allow bacteria to enter the skin.


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