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What Are the Treatments for Facial Cellulitis?

author image Adam Cloe Ph.D./M.D.
Adam Cloe has been published in various scientific journals, including the "Journal of Biochemistry." He is currently a pathology resident at the University of Chicago. Cloe holds a Bachelor of Arts in biochemistry from Boston University, a M.D. from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in pathology from the University of Chicago.
What Are the Treatments for Facial Cellulitis?
Close-up of man taking pills Photo Credit: George Doyle/Valueline/Getty Images

Cellulitis is the result of a bacterial infection that occurs in the tissue underneath your skin. This kind of infection generally is the result of bacteria getting into your body through a cut or some other type of skin trauma. Facial cellulitis can be extremely painful due to the proximity of many facial muscles to the skin.

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The most common treatment for facial cellulitis, EMedTV explains, is antibiotics. Mild cases of facial cellulitis can be treated using oral antibiotics. Because cellulitis can spread rapidly, however, severe cases may require hospitalization and intravenous antibiotics. In general, antibiotics that are effective against a broad range of bacteria are used; more specific treatment can be determined by culturing the bacteria that are causing the infection. Penicillin, amoxicillin, aminoglycosides, chloramphenicol, vancomycin, clindamycin, fluoroquinolones, metronidazole and cefoxitin are among the antibiotics that can be used to treat cellulitis of the face, explains. The exact antibiotic used depends on the preferences of the doctor and any compounds to which the patient is allergic. Approximately 30 percent of all patients who are treated for facial cellulitis will have the infection come back, also known as recurrent facial cellulitis. For these patients, a longer course of antibiotics may be needed to ensure that all of the bacteria are eradicated.


Surgery can be used as a treatment for severe cellulitis, though it is rarely necessary, explains. Sometimes facial cellulitis can lead to the development of an abscess, which is caused by the accumulation of bacteria and immune cells underneath the skin. Similarly, facial cellulitis can also cause large amounts of pus to develop under the skin. In these cases, surgery may be performed to drain the affected areas, which will help relieve pain and swelling and drain any bacteria out of the abscess. Severe cases of cellulitis can also cause death of some of the surrounding skin tissue, which can slow the healing. In these cases, a surgical procedure called debridement can be done to cut away the dead tissue, making it easier for the affected area to heal.

Symptomatic Treatment

Although facial cellulitis can generally be easily treated with antibiotics, the disease can cause significant pain and discomfort, particularly if the cellulitis is in the area around the eye and swelling tissue impairs your vision. Soaking the affected area in warm water can help relieve some of the swelling and limit the visual impairment, explains You can also take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen, to help relieve pain and reduce any fever that this bacterial infection can cause.

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