What Medications Are Commonly Used to Treat Bacterial Skin Infections Such As Cellulitis?


Quick Answer

Oral antibiotics are commonly used to treat bacterial skin infections such as cellulitis, according to Mayo Clinic. Although the condition often improves within three days, all prescribed antibiotics should be taken. For cellulitis, the course of antibiotics is typically 14 days.

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Full Answer

Streptococcus and staphylococcus bacteria are the most common causes of cellulitis, so a doctor usually prescribes an antibiotic that fights both, explains Mayo Clinic. Dicloxacillin or cephalexin are often used for mild cases, The Merck Manual states. Patients who are allergic to penicillin or have a MRSA infection are prescribed cephalexin.

In addition to antibiotics, treatment involves elevating the infected site to cut back swelling and pain, WebMD notes. Pain and fever are reduced with medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Intravenous or intramuscular antibiotics are sometimes needed instead of the oral form when the infection is severe, the patient has other medical conditions, the infection covers a large area or is near the eyes, or the patient is elderly or very young. In addition, patients who do not respond to oral antibiotics require a different approach.

A celllulitis infection occurs on the skin and underlying soft tissue, describes WebMD. Bacteria invade through a hole or tear in the skin. Cellulitis is often caused by an accident, surgical infection, bone infection, eczema, psoriasis or a foreign object in the skin. Commons symptoms are swelling, redness, red streaks, pain, pus or warmth in the affected area.

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