Cellulitis is a common bacterial infection of the skin, which can progress rapidly if it is not treated appropriately. It is caused when the bacteria enter the skin through its protective outer layer, typically from site of an injury such as a cut, puncture, sore, burn or bite. In some cases, it may occur at the site of surgery or where there is a catheter. After entering the deeper layers of the skin, the bacteria multiply and make chemicals that cause inflammation in the skin.
Expected duration of cellulitis
The duration for which cellulitis may last depends on the extent of the cellulitis, the bacteria that caused the infection, your general health and treatment.
Most people with cellulitis respond well to 7 - 10 days of oral antibiotics. If cellulitis is not treated on time and appropriately, it may cause serious complications within a few days even in otherwise healthy people.
If the infection is severe or there are symptoms suggestive of spread of infection to blood or other parts of the body, intravenous antibiotics are needed. For this, you will be admitted to a hospital for treatment. The antibiotics may be given directly into your vein through an injection or a drip (known as intravenous antibiotics). Some people with intravenous antibiotics show rapid improvement and they can be shifted to oral antibiotics in 2 to 3 days. If your symptoms improve and you do not have any factor, which increases the risk of complications, you may be discharged in a few days and will be advised to complete the treatment with oral antibiotic. If response to treatment is not so good or you develop any complication, intravenous antibiotics will be needed for a few more days before switching over to oral antibiotics.
Longer duration of treatment may be needed in people, who have factors that increase the risk of severe infection and complications such as people with diabetes, certain cancers (such as leukaemia or lymphoma), HIV or AIDS or those who are on chemotherapy.