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Top 10 Myths Regarding the Diagnosis and Treatment of Cellulitis.

BACKGROUND: Cellulitis is commonly treated in the emergency department (ED). Patients who present with cellulitis incur significant health care costs and may be overtreated with antibiotics. The accurate diagnosis and treatment of cellulitis plays an important role in cost-effective, high-quality medical care, as well as appropriate antibiotic utilization.

OBJECTIVE: We aim to describe common fallacies regarding cellulitis. We present 10 myths that result in misdiagnosis, overtreatment, or inappropriate empiric management of cellulitis. Clinical presentation, including swelling and redness, is explored in depth, along with incidence of community-acquired methicillin-resistance Staphylococcus aureus, management of tick bites, and effective antibiotic therapy for cellulitis.

DISCUSSION: Patients are often treated for cellulitis unnecessarily or inappropriately. Awareness of these myths will help guide providers in clinical decision making in order to effectively tailor treatment for these infections.

CONCLUSIONS: Cellulitis is not as simple as it might seem, and is commonly misdiagnosed in the ED. Noninfectious causes of local symptoms, including lymphedema, venous stasis, and deep vein thrombosis need to be considered. Cellulitis should be treated with empiric antimicrobial therapy based on patient risk factors and regional susceptibility patterns. This review will assist providers in managing cellulitis and avoiding treatment errors that lead to high costs, unwanted side effects for patients, and overuse of antibiotics.

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