A doctor can usually recognize cellulitis from the skin's appearance. Unless there's pus or an open wound, the responsible organism can be hard to identify. The exact strain of the bacteria isn't usually important, as typical "broad spectrum" antibiotics will deal with most bacteria that cause cellulitis infections.
Several types of antibiotics are used to treat cellulitis. The type of antibiotic prescribed will depend on the cause and severity of the infection and on other medical conditions. Uncomplicated cellulitis should start to clear up in just a few days. It's important to finish the prescribed medication even if the symptoms go away.
When antibiotic treatment begins, your doctor may tell you to restrict movement of the affected area and rest in bed until the infection begins to subside and any fever goes down. Once the infection starts to improve, normal activities can be resumed. Elevating the affected area so that it's higher than the heart will reduce swelling and pain. Warm compresses increase the blood flow to help fight infection.
Recently, more cases of cellulitis and other skin infections have been linked to methicillin resistant staph aureus (MRSA). This bacteria was only seen in hospital settings in the past, but people can now be exposed to it anywhere. It usually requires specific types of antibiotics to treat. Your doctor will be able to prescribe the appropriate antibiotic for you if they believe you have MRSA.
Antibiotics alone don't work fast enough to stop necrotizing cellulitis, so the infected flesh has to be cut away. Sometimes, amputation is the only way to prevent the disease from invading the rest of the body.
To avoid cellulitis: