Can antibiotics cause cellulitis?

You’ve got a nasty infection and your doctor has prescribed antibiotics. A few days later, you start noticing that your skin is getting warmer and redder. It feels tender to the touch as if someone has been pinching it incessantly. You are now starting to wonder if the same pills that were supposed to make you feel better could have made things worse? Could antibiotics be causing cellulitis, a notorious skin condition known for its painful redness?

The basics of cellulitis

Before diving into whether antibiotics can cause cellulitis or not, let’s cover some of the basics surrounding this pesky ailment.

Cellulitis is an infection in your skin’s deepest layers. It typically starts when bacteria (most commonly Staphylococcus aureus) enters through even minor breaks in your skin such as a cut, insect bite or shingles rash.

The hallmark symptoms include:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Pain or tenderness
  • Warmth on affected areas

It most often affects legs but can develop wherever there’s an opening allowing bacteria inside.

While anyone can get cellulitis, people with certain conditions such as weak immune systems or poor blood flow might be at greater risk (1).

Do antibiotics cause cellulites?

Nowadays our first line of defense against infections would usually involve taking antibiotics. However, despite being highly effective against bacterial infections did you know they could inadvertently trigger off some cases of Cellulites?

Antibiotic triggered Cellulatis aside from being rare occur due to two reasons;

  • Allergy:

Some people may be allergic to drugs that are contained within these medications which can lead them into developing significant swelling/rashes accompanied by severe pain especially around legs/ankles (2).

  • Secondary Infection

    One common reputation associated with using broad-spectrum antibiotic courses cuts out both good and bad bacteria affecting the microbiome in our gut. With that being said, as the body adjusts to these new differences staph like bacteria has an easier time taking over some areas of your skin casing cellulites (3).

However, one might argue whether antibiotics are potent enough causative agents to cause cellulitis without a pre-existing vulnerability in your immune system.

Factors outside of Antibiotics that can influence Cellulitis risk

While we pointed out antibiotic utilization could potentially be linked with development of this dermatological condition here’re other possible factors that upsurge one’s likelihood at developing cellulties;

Inadequate hygiene

Poor personal hygiene may lead to accumulation/deposition of dirt on the surface/skin/face opening favorable conditions for bacterial proliferation on various parts within our bodies.

Legionnaires disease

Individuals suffering from severe health complications which impacts blood flow can have half their remaining probability towards developing chronic disorder inclusive but not restricted to; high pressure ranges or renal impairment.


The Lymphatic system is responsible for nourishing tissues while flushing away any excessive fluid/matter along with it capable enough action against external pathogens (5). However, at times there exists accidental leakage leading lymphocytes pooling around particular areas causing swelling/inflammation- A case known as lymphedema will significantly impact intravenous movement ultimately increasing chances linked directly attributable cellulites formation due low resistance power possessed by someone affected by it.

  1. Diabetes
  2. Obstructions: Some notable examples include a blockage within veins/tissues during postoperative period

People suffering from chronic ailments tend to be vulnerable owing small cuts accruing secondary infections resulting into complicated residues such as fasciitis/cellulitus forms preventing use topical treatments thus creating ideal opportunities seen rampant among exposed landmores known for working under strenuous environmental conditions whose prevalence is noted to be high in US recent years (6).


Antibiotics at times can cause cellulitis as their side effect, however the possibility of an individual getting Cellulities solely from antibiotics without a pre-morbid condition of immunosuppression is quite low.
The fact remains minor cuts, poor hygiene and other factors mentioned above are primary driving forces behind origins/development of atypical long standing infections such as cellulitis.

For mild cases involving tiny areas around your legs; care for by cleaning the wound gently using water/alcohol-based antiseptic solutions twice daily whilst checking changes on leg sizes if it supersedes normal levels day-by-day or immediately visits nearest healthcare-situated area otherwise opt protracted medications to contain any potential risk present.


(2) Tapsall J, Lawrence R Triggers for inflammation: bacterial infection/anaphylaxis following antibiotic usage Clin Microbiol Infect 2008 (Suppl. 1):25–32.
(3) Palleroni A et al Erysipelas: clinical and microbiological characteristics and analysis of predisposing facors Ig Sanita Pubbl 2010 Jan-Feb;66(1):87-102.


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