What is the treatment duration of cellulitis for outpatients?

Updated: Jun 14, 2019
  • Author: Thomas E Herchline, MD; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Treatment duration for cellulitis is controversial; shorter-duration therapy may be as effective as longer-duration therapy. [77] 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

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