bottom-banner -template -template-redirect BaroMedical Hyperbaric Oxygen Centre



Cellulitis is commonly caused by Streptococcus or Staphylococcus bacteria. As a natural antibiotic, hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) eliminates bacteria and its growth by promoting the white blood cell’s killing capacity. Hyperbaric oxygen can serve as an adjunct to antibiotic therapy as it has bactericidal properties.

Risk factors for cellulitis are poor peripheral vascular circulation i.e. venous or arterial insufficiency, diabetes, pregnancy, and obesity. These factors can be addressed by hyperbaric oxygen’s ability to enhance the microcirculation for overall improved blood flow and healing to the affected tissues.

Cellulitis may also progress from of an injury to the skin such as in burns, blisters or animal bites or in people with lowered immune system such as post surgery. The infection can initially attack the superficial layers and can spread to the deeper layers of the skin causing more serious problems, e.g. necrotising fasciitis and Fournier’s gangrene. Hyperbaric oxygen boosts the body’s immune system enabling the body to fight off future infections.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy in treatment of cellulitis and necrotising fasciitis:

  • reduces pain and inflammation
  • reduces swelling
  • reduces infection and improves effect of antibiotics minimizing their side effect
  • speeds up wound healing
  • improves overall circulation which would minimize reoccurences
  • reduces mortality and amputation rate

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy in addition to antibiotics is successful in faster wound healing. In cases of deeper infections such as necrotising fasciitis, hyperbaric oxygen is limb and life saving and is routinely used when available.

Further reading:
  1. Willy C,Rieger H,Vogt D. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for necrotizing soft tissue infections. Chirurg. 2012 Nov;83(11):960-72.
  2. Massey PR, Sakran JV, MIlls AM, Sarani B, Aufhauser DD Jr, Sims CA, Pascual JL, Kelz RR, Holena DN. Hyperabaric Oxygen therapy in necrotizing soft tissue infections. J Surg Res. 2012 Sep;177(1):146-51
  3. Schamale M, Fichtner A, Pohl C, John E, Bucher M. Hyperbaric oxygenation for necrotizing soft tissue infections. Chirurg. 2012 Nov;83(11):973-9.
  4. Jain K.K. (5th ed): Textbook of Hyperbaric Medicine. Toronto: Hogrefe & Huber, 2009. 138; 145-147
  5. Lipsky BA, Weigelt JA, Gupta V, Killian A, Peng MM.Skin, soft tissue, bone, and joint infections in hospitalized patients: epidemiology andmicrobiological, clinical, and economic Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2007 Nov;28(11):1290-8. Epub 2007 Oct 3.
  6. Douso,ML.Hyperbaric oxygen therapy as adjunctive treatment for postoperative cellulitis involving intrapelvic mesh. J Minim Invasive Gynecol. 2009 Mar-Apr;16(2):222-3.
  7. de Vaumas C, Bronchard R, Montravers P. Nonpharmacological treatment of severe cutaneous infections: hyperbaric oxygen therapy, dressings and local treatments. Ann Fr Anesth Reanim. 2006 Sep;25(9):986-9. Epub 2006 May 3.
  8. Higuchi T, Oto T, Millar IL, Levvey BJ, Williams TJ, Snell GI: Preliminary report of the safety and efficacy of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for specific complications of lung transplantation.; J Heart Lung Transplant. Nov;25(11):1302-9,2006.
  9. Escobar SJ, Slade JB Jr, Hunt TK, Cianci P.Adjuvant hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO2) for treatment of necrotizing fasciitisreduces mortality and amputation rate. Undersea Hyperb Med. 2005 Nov-Dec; 32(6):437-43.
  10. Wang J, Corson K, Mader J. Hyperbaric oxygen as adjunctive therapy in Vibrio vulnificus septicemia and cellulitis. Undersea Hyperb Med. 2004 Spring;31(1):179-81.
  11. Wilkinson D, Doolette D. Hyperbaric oxygen treatment and survival from necrotizing soft tissue infection. Arch Surg. 2004 Dec;139(12):1339-45
  12. Mathur MN, Patrick WG, Unsworth IP, Bennett FM. Cellulitis owing to Aeromonas hydrophilia: treatment with hyperbaric oxygen. Aust N Z J Surg. 1995 May;65(5):367-9.
  13. Brown DR, Davis NL, Lepawsky M, Cunningham J, Kortbeek J. A multicenter review of the treatment of major truncal necrotizing infections with and without hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Am J Surg. 1994 May;167(5):485-9.
  14. Hirn M: Hyperbaric oxygen in the treatment of gas gangrene and perineal necrotizing fasciitis; A clinical and experimental study.Eur J Surg Suppl;(570):1-36. Review, 1993.
  15. Topper SM, Plaga BR, Burner WL 3rd: Necrotizing myonecrosis and polymicrobial sepsis. The role of adjunctive hyperbaric oxygen;Orthop Rev. Oct;19(10):895-900,1990.
  16. Hirn M, Niinikoski J: Hyperbaric oxygen in the treatment of clostridial gas gangrene; Ann Chir Gynaecol; 77(1):37-40, 1988.
  17. Cohn GH.Hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Promoting healing in difficult cases. Postgrad Med. 1986 Feb 1;79(2):89-92.
  18. Jacobsen E, Secher O: Hyperbaric oxygen therapy in anaerobic infections; Nord Med.;86(46):1339-42, Danish.
  19. Hitchcock CR, Haglin JJ, Arnar O: Treatment of clostridial infections with hyperbaric oxygen: Surgery, Oct;62(4):759-69, 1967.

Back to:


-*- WARNING -*-

Case file:  Cellulitis

Male, 57 years old with history of recurrent cellulitis over the last 6 years 

Proudly serving Metro Vancouver and British Columbians with hyperbaric oxygen services and wound care since 1999

© 1999- BaroMedical Research Centre, Inc. All Rights Reserved

7850 Sixth Street - Burnaby V3N 3N3 - British Columbia - Vancouver - CANADA - Ph: 604-777-7055

 Information contained on this site is intended for general consumer understanding and education. It should not be used as a substitute for any medical professional opinion, advice or prescribed medication nor should it serve as diagnosis or treatment of health problems.