Lengthy battle with cellulitis deserves another look

Infection of deeper skin tissue is common. But when antibiotics fail, reconsider the diagnosis.



February 7, 2020 - 2:14 PM

Dr. Keith Roach

Dear Dr. Roach: I am having a serious, lengthy battle with cellulitis on my lower leg. For nearly three months, nothing any doctor has recommended or prescribed has worked. The inflammation and skin discoloration have not abated even with three days of intravenous injections of antibiotics and three courses of antibiotic pills. I have soaked my leg in Epsom salt, used antibiotic creams, Vicks rub, aspirin for inflammation, raised my leg when I am sitting — all to no avail. The doctors I have seen seem to have thrown up their hands and offer no resolution. Every medical person who sees my leg immediately diagnoses the problem to be cellulitis. An ultrasound showed no blood clot. 

This occurred after a 15-hour plane flight and a subsequent day of walking — about 18,000 steps. I wore support hose on the flight and moved as much as possible. I basically missed a night of sleep, walked for several hours, went to bed and was woken in the night with leg cramps and the swelling and rash. There was no break in the skin nor insect bite that I was aware of. I am female, 75, in fairly good health, not obese, do not have any circulation problems. 

I know that an infection lasting so long is very dangerous and can lead to sepsis. I am willing to do whatever is necessary to rid myself of this bacterial menace. Please advise, and soon, as I am desperate! — T.E.

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