Aetiology and clinical features of facial cellulitis: a prospective study.

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Aetiology and clinical features of facial cellulitis: a prospective study.

Infect Dis (Lond). 2018 Jan;50(1):27-34

Authors: Rath E, Skrede S, Mylvaganam H, Bruun T

BACKGROUND: In the early 20th century, the face was the predominant site of cellulitis. Despite a relative decrease in the incidence of facial cellulitis, it is still common. There are few studies on this condition during the last decades. The aim of this study was to describe contemporary aetiological and clinical characteristics of patients admitted to hospital with non-suppurative facial cellulitis.
METHODS: Patients were included prospectively. Clinical details, comorbidities and biochemistry results were recorded. Investigations included cultures of skin swab and blood and tests for streptococcal antibodies during the acute and convalescent stages.
RESULTS: Sixty-five patients were included. Serology, cultures and response to penicillin monotherapy identified probable or confirmed β-haemolytic streptococci (BHS) aetiology in 75% (49/65) of cases. Significant comorbidities were present in 54% (35/65). Fever, chills or rigors before or at admission was noted in 91% (59/65). Patients presented most often with sharply demarcated erythema and raised borders (54/64). Penicillin or penicillinase-resistant penicillin alone or in combination cured 68% (44/65) of the patients. Supplementary clindamycin was used in 28% (18/65), most often only for 1-3 days. Only four patients needed a second course of antibiotics. Clinical failure was more often seen in patients with non-BHS aetiology (p = .037). Few complications were noted; 14.5% (9/62) experienced transient diarrhoea, and only one had confirmed Clostridium difficile infection. No patients developed cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, and there were no fatalities.
CONCLUSIONS: Our findings indicate that BHS are the leading cause of facial cellulitis. Most patients exhibit sharply demarcated lesions and systemic symptoms. Narrow-spectrum β-lactam antibiotics and short hospital stay appear sufficient. Few complications and low recurrence rates were seen.

PMID: 28768452 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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