Remember that cellulitis can be an aggressive condition that you cannot simply ignore or wait to resolve on its own. If left untreated, the infection can spread and cause additional complications. In some cases, it can lead to blood or bone infection, or even gangrene.1 Therefore, coming up with an effective and immediate treatment plan for cellulitis is crucial.
How Long Does It Take for Cellulitis to Clear Up?
Most cases of cellulitis are usually mild, and can resolve in a matter of days or weeks. According to HealthLine, the infection usually resolves after seven to 10 days of treatment.2
However, if the infection is severe, or if you are suffering from a chronic health condition like diabetes or are immunocompromised, then the treatment may take much longer. While taking antibiotics is the conventional method to treat cellulitis, you must exercise precaution when taking these medications, as they can do more damage to your health.
The Problem With Taking Antibiotics
One of the most severe effects of antibiotics is on your gut health, as antibiotiics have both short- and long-term effects on the composition of the microbes in your gut. This is crucial, as your gut serves as your second brain, and is where 80 percent of your immune system is located.
The excessive use of antibiotics has also led to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant super bacteria, like Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria — which is, ironically, one potential cause of cellulitis.
At least 2 million Americans fall victim to antibiotic-resistant infections every year, with 23,000 dying from their ailment. What's worse, the numbers are steadily rising.3 If you have cellulitis, it's best to try natural home remedies first before turning to antibiotic treatment. Most natural remedies for cellulitis are typically safe and will not put you at risk of severe side effects.
Try These Natural Alternatives for Cellulitis Treatment
Natural cellulitis treatments are usually effective, especially if you follow a regimen that combines both internal and external treatment. Here are some natural remedies you can try:4,5,6
• Garlic. Known as one of the most potent natural remedies used around the world, garlic is valued by many because of its powerful antibacterial and antiviral properties, and potential ability to ward off antibiotic-resistant superbugs. Studies have found that garlic may help with more than 160 different diseases.7
To use garlic for cellulitis, simply take three to four raw cloves a day for several weeks. You can also fry two crushed garlic cloves in coconut oil, and then cool and strain the oil, which you can apply on the affected area for several hours (make sure to wash your skin after removing the oil). You can also rub raw crushed garlic cloves on the infected site and leave it on for a few minutes every day, but this is not advisable if you have sensitive skin.
• Tea tree oil. This essential oil has strong antibacterial, antifungal and antimicrobial properties. To use it, simply add a few drops to a moistened cotton ball and dab it on the infected site. Leave it for a few hours before washing off. You can also dilute a few drops in a teaspoon of aloe vera gel or organicraw honey, and then apply to your skin.
• Oregano oil. Its phenolic compounds, thymol and carvacrol, provide antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that may be useful against cellulitis. You can dilute a few drops in a safe carrier oil and apply to the affected area. Or, you can take it internally by mixing a drop in a glass of water or a tablespoon of honey or coconut oil. Do this three to four times a day.
• Manuka honey. This type of honey is rich in phytochemicals that may be helpful in controlling staph infections and may even inhibit MRSA infection. Clinical trials have actually found that Manuka honey can effectively eradicate more than 250 clinical strains of bacteria. To use, simply lather on the affected skin and leave it there for a few hours before washing off. Do this for a few times per day.
• Fenugreek seeds. The flavonoids in fenugreek seeks may help reduce skin inflammation and infections. Make a paste using the ground seeds and pure water, and then apply on your skin. After a few hours, wash it off. This should be repeated daily until the infection subsides.
• Echinacea. Similar to fenugreek, echinacea is loaded with flavonoids that have antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties. Take it internally or apply it on the skin (in gel or cream form). Note, however, that if you're suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or other autoimmune disorders, this herb is not advisable.
• Activated charcoal. This non-toxic remedy, which you can purchase in drugstores and health stores, can help draw out toxins and chemical impurities from your body. Here's how to use it:
1. Mix 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed and 1 tablespoon of activated charcoal powder and add water to make a paste. Apply the paste on a paper towel, and cover with another towel to make a poultice.
2. Place this poultice onto your affected skin areas, and cover with plastic. Secure with tape if needed.
3. Leave the charcoal on your skin overnight or a few hours. Repeat this daily for three to four days.
• Calendula. This flower promotes optimal blood flow to the affected areas, and also stimulates collagen production to speed up healing. Simply steep 2 tablespoons of calendula flowers in hot water for 10 minutes, then apply the water to the infected skin. Leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes. This should be repeated three to four times per day for two to three weeks.
If You Must Take Antibiotics, Make Sure You Take a High-Quality Probiotic Supplement
Most of these natural remedies are effective against cellulitis, but there are instances, such as for severe infections, when you have no choice but to go through a course of antibiotics. If this is the case, make sure that you reseed your gut with healthy bacteria from fermented foods or a high-quality probiotic supplement. Nevertheless, remember that antibiotics should be reserved for serious bacterial infections that do not respond to other treatments.