Cellulitis is a common but potentially serious skin infection of the deeper layers of the skin and the subcutaneous tissues. It is most often caused by staphylococcus and streptococcus bacteria, but can also be caused by other types of bacteria.
It occurs in areas where the skin has broken open, such as a cut, scrape, insect bite, ulcer, burn, surgical wound or where skin is breaking down from conditions like eczema, psoriasis or a fungal infection.
Generally, bacteria are present on the skin, but they do not cause harm unless they are able to go deep into the skin. Breaks in skin allow the bacteria to get under the skin and cause infection.
Factors like a weakened immune system, chicken pox or shingles, diabetes, obesity, blood circulation problems, lymphedema, drug misuse and a history of cellulitis increase the risk of developing this problem.
Although the infection mostly occurs on the lower legs, it may occur anywhere on your body. The affected area usually looks red and swollen, and feels hot, tender and painful.
Most cases of cellulitis are mild and tend to resolve within several days or a few weeks, but at times, it may progress to a more serious infection or other dangerous problems. In fact, if left untreated, it can be potentially fatal.
So, do consult your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment, especially if the infection is severe, does not get better within a few days, or if you have other medical problems.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for cellulitis.
Along with the natural treatments, it is essential to take the entire course of antibiotics prescribed by your healthcare provider.
1. Tea Tree Oil
Due to its strong antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties, tea tree oil is highly beneficial for treating cellulitis.
- Moisten a cotton swab with water and put one or two drops of tea tree essential oil on it. Dab it on the site of the infection. Leave it on for a few hours before washing it off.
- Alternatively, you can mix a couple of drops of tea tree oil in one teaspoon of aloe vera gel or raw honey. Apply it on your skin and leave it on for a few hours before rinsing it off.
Use either of these remedies once or twice daily until you are satisfied with the results.
2. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil contains medium-chain fatty acids, particularly lauric acid which helps fight bacteria. Coconut oil is also soothing for the skin and has healing properties.
- Apply coconut oil on the affected area.
- Leave it on for a few hours and then wash it off.
- Reapply several times a day until the problem is cured.
Turmeric is a powerful natural antibiotic and antiseptic to prevent and treat cellulitis. Its active ingredient curcumin also provides anti-inflammatory benefits.
- Mix one teaspoon of turmeric powder in a glass of milk and boil it. You can also add a little honey. Drink this turmeric milk once or twice daily until the infection clears.
- Alternatively, you can take 400 to 600 mg of standardized curcumin powder, three times daily for several weeks to a couple of months.
- You can also make a turmeric poultice by mixing one tablespoon of raw honey, one teaspoon of turmeric powder and three drops of tea tree oil in one or two teaspoons of bentonite clay, enough to make a paste. Apply it on the affected area and leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes before rinsing it off. Use it daily for a few days.
Calendula is soothing for tender and inflamed skin, and fights infection. Plus, it increases blood flow to the affected area and also stimulates the production of collagen, thereby promoting wound healing.
- Steep two teaspoons of calendula flowers in a cup of hot water for about 10 minutes. Dip a clean piece of cloth in this infusion and apply it on the affected area. Leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes. Repeat three or four times daily for a few weeks.
- You can also apply calendula cream a few times a day until you see improvement.
5. Oil of Oregano
Being nature’s antibiotic, oil of oregano is another effective home remedy for cellulitis. It contains phenolic compounds like carvacrol and thymol with antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory qualities.
A study published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology found that the application of a 3 percent oregano extract ointment reduced bacterial contamination and subsequent infection in patients with post-surgical wounds.
- Dilute 10 to 12 drops of oil of oregano in two tablespoons of olive oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil or any other carrier oil. Apply it on the affected area and leave it on for a few hours. Wash it off and reapply several times a day.
- You can also take this oil internally. Mix three drops of oil of oregano in one tablespoon of coconut oil. You can also add one teaspoon of honey. Consume this mixture five times daily for three or four days. Then, take it three times daily for seven to 10 days.
- Another option is to mix five drops of oil of oregano in a glass of water or fruit juice. Drink it three to five times daily for a few days and then reduce the dosage to three drops as a maintenance dose for about 10 days.
Note: Do not use full-strength oil of oregano on broken skin. Pregnant women should avoid taking oil of oregano because it can stimulate the uterus and induce menstruation.
6. Manuka Honey
Manuka honey is native to New Zealand. It is rich in phytochemicals that are effective in controlling staph infections. The active compounds in this honey have also been found to inhibit antibiotic-resistant MRSA (Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus). Manuka honey will also help speed up wound healing.
- Spread manuka honey on the affected area.
- Leave it on for a few hours before washing it off.
- Do this a few times a day until you are satisfied with the results.