Crouse Health Online: Wellness is just a click away.
Share Share
  |  Connect with Us: 
large
med
small
Text Size
 

Health News



Penicillin Prevents Return of Leg Infection Called Cellulitis: Study

Penicillin Prevents Return of Leg Infection Called Cellulitis: Study

05/01/13

WEDNESDAY, May 1 (HealthDay News) -- For people who have suffered from cellulitis of the leg, a long course of low-dose penicillin prevents the painful infection from returning, British researchers report.

Once the penicillin is stopped, however, its protective effect diminishes and the condition can flare up again, the researchers noted.

"Low-dose penicillin substantially reduces the risk of further episodes of leg cellulitis in those who have had two or more previous episodes," said lead researcher Hywel Williams, a professor of dermato-epidemiology at the University of Nottingham.

"The penicillin reduced recurrences from 37 percent in the group taking placebo to 22 percent in those taking penicillin," Williams said. "But this effect only occurred in the period that folks took the penicillin. When they stopped the 12 months of penicillin, the protective effect wore off."

Cellulitis is a common infection of the skin and deep underlying tissues. The two most common causes are Staphylococcus (staph) bacteria and group A strep. The bacteria enter the body through an injury such as a bruise, burn, surgical cut or wound, as well as through athlete's foot.

Symptoms can include fever and chills, swollen glands or lymph nodes, and a rash with painful, red, tender skin. In addition, the skin may blister and scab over.

The usual treatment is antibiotics, but the condition commonly returns when treatment is stopped.

Doctors and their patients now have reliable information on a possible way of reducing recurrences of this disabling and painful recurrent disease, Williams said.

"We now know for the first time that low-dose penicillin works, but we don't know how long it should be taken for and whether giving long-term antibiotics may cause resistance problems in the community in the long term, or whether it should be given for people with a first episode of cellulitis or just those with two or more previous episodes," he said.

The report was published in the May 2 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

One expert doesn't think this treatment is anything new.

"I know keeping you on antibiotics will prevent cellulitis from recurring," said Dr. Michele Green, a dermatologist at Lenox Hill Hospital, in New York City. "The problem is that the protective effect diminishes once drug therapy is stopped.

"This is what I do with older people. I keep them on antibiotics for a longer period of time so that they don't have a problem, but once you take them off they're just as vulnerable as they were before," Green said. "That's just common sense."

In addition, Green worries that keeping people on antibiotics for extended periods helps build the bacteria's resistance to the drug.

For the new study, Williams' team randomly assigned 274 people who had suffered from cellulitis of the leg that had been treated to one year of treatment with low-dose penicillin or placebos.

Over three years of follow-up, people taking penicillin saw a recurrence of cellulitis 626 days after the drug was stopped, compared with 532 days for those in the placebo group, the researchers found.

While on penicillin, 30 people had a recurrence of cellulitis, compared with 51 patients taking the placebo, they found.

More information

To find out more about cellulitis, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Health News Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

OF INTEREST:
 

Latest News

Crouse First in Area to Perform Single-Site Hysterectomy
more >

MedEx Bedside Prescription Delivery Service

Free service offers convenience, patient education at discharge.
more >

CrouseSports Express After-Hours Ortho Care

Immediate care of orthopedic injuries in kids and adults.
more >

Weight Loss Surgery

Is it right for you? Attend a free information seminar held twice monthly.
more >

Quality at Crouse

See how Crouse Hospital strives to provide the best in patient care.
more >

Cheer Up That Special Someone

Say get well or welcome a new arrival with a gift purchased right at Crouse.

more >

Make an Online Donation Now

Your donation of any amount helps support Crouse services & programs in a meaningful way.
more >

Shop Online Now

Say get well, thinking of you or welcome new baby with a unique gift from the Crouse Gift Shop.

more >