Cellulitis is a bacterial infection of the skin which can spread to deeper layers and become fatal if left untreated. Cellulitis is best treated with antibiotics. However, there are a number of natural remedies for cellulitis to help treat and prevent this condition.
What is Cellulitis?
Cellulitis is an inflammation of the body’s connective tissues which is caused by a bacterial infection. It spreads fast and can easily spread to the connective tissues that are deeper within the skin and even affect the lymph nodes. Cellulitis mostly occurs in the legs but it can also affect the arms, face, and scalp. Cellulitis is best treated with antibiotics and it is important to start medical treatment as soon as possible to avoid the spread of infection. Without treatment, cellulitis can become life threatening. Natural remedies for cellulitis may be used to prevent the disease or to ease some of the symptoms along with antibiotics treatment.
Local hot compresses are a very common and effective cellulitis natural remedy. Local application of heat increases the circulation of blood in the infected area and thereby helps bring more white blood cells to kill the bacteria directly. Further, application of heat also increases the production of antibodies in the blood to fight the bacteria (Forgey, 1999). As a topical application, honey has been found to be effective in treating the symptoms of cellulitis. Honey helps wounds to heal faster and keeps the infection at bay. Massage must be not be used if there is an active infection. However, it may be used along with compression and exercise to prevent cellulitis (Ehrlich, 2008).
Flavonoids and Juicing
Studies show that flavonoids which are compounds found in fruits such as citrus, blueberries, grapes and in vegetables, tea and red wine help to reduce the lymphedema and the risk of cellulitis. Flavonoids may also be taken in supplement form, Quercetin. Juicing is a natural remedy that can relieve symptoms of cellulitis and boost the immunity of the body. One useful juice is as follows: Make 12 ounces of juice with 3 medium sized carrots, 1-2 garlic cloves, 1 ounce turmeric root and 1 medium cucumber. This juice must be consumed once to twice daily. Likewise, the juice of 3 medium carrots, 3 celery stalks and 1 ounce turmeric root has been found to be a very effective remedy (Bailey and Trivieri, 2006).
In Ayurveda, the intake of the following herbs have been found to control cellulitis. Echinacea which can also be used externally in the form of a gel or cream; pycnogenol, the extract of the bark of a particular type of pine tree; thyme and gotu kola (Centella asiatica). Local applications of certain herbs are effective remedies and these herbs include: yarrow (Achillea millefolium), goldenseal root (Hydrastis canadensis), slippery elm (Ulmus fulva), calendula (Calendula officinalis), tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) and fenugreek seed (Trigonella foenum-graecum) which contain flavonoids (Ehrlich, 2008).
In the context of homeopathy, Apis mellifica is useful to treat swelling that worsens with heat and pressure and cantharis is particularly useful to ease the mind. Lachesis is very effective when cellulitis is worse on the left side of the body and during sleeping time. Mercurius may be used to treat individuals who do not tolerate heat or cold. Rhus toxicodendron is best for treating night itching. Sulphur soothes hot, burning skin (Ehrlich, 2008). However, medical attention must be sought if fever and swelling do not respond to natural remedies for cellulitis within 24 hours.
Bailey, S. and Trivieri, L. (2006). Juice Alive: The Ultimate Guide to Juicing Remedies. Square One Publishers, Inc.
Ehrlich, D. S. (2008). Cellulitis. University of Maryland Publication. Accessed online on 18 September 2010 at http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/cellulitis-000033.htm
Forgey, W.W. (1999). Wilderness medicine: beyond first aid. Globe Pequot Publications.