Fast Five Quiz: Cellulitis Key Aspects

Michael Stuart Bronze, MD


January 23, 2020

Patients with cellulitis who have mild local symptoms and no evidence of systemic disease can be treated on an outpatient basis. Facial cellulitis of odontogenic origin requires extraction or root canal as well as antibiotic therapy. Elevating limbs with cellulitis expedites resolution of the swelling. Cool sterile saline dressings may be used to remove purulent discharge from any open lesion. Treatment duration for cellulitis is controversial. In general, consider the following:

  • A transient increase in erythema over the first day of treatment is common and represents an inflammatory reaction to cell lysis caused by antibiotics.

  • The patient should be reassessed with short-interval follow-up—ideally within 48-72 hours—to ensure improvement.

  • In patients who respond slowly to therapy, antibiotics may need to be continued until inflammation resolves. If infection does not regress after outpatient treatment, antibiotic resistance or a more serious infection should be ruled out; an alternative diagnosis should also be considered

  • Development of systemic symptoms should prompt reevaluation and consideration for admission.

  • Concomitant hypotension and tachycardia indicate systemic disease and warrant intensive monitoring.

Read more about the management of patients with cellulitis.

This Fast Five Quiz was excerpted and adapted from the Medscape Drugs & Diseases article Cellulitis.

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