Recurrent cellulitis

Hello, I have secondary lymphoedema in my arm and have had 6 attacks of cellulitis in the last 2 years resulting in ten days in hospital in October having I've clindamycin. I also have Crohnns disease for which I take steroids and which is causing me some grief at the moment. My daughter has asked me to go with her and the grandchildren on a villa holiday in South Spain and while appreciating her offer I would really like just to amble over to a hotel in France which I can drive to. Driving means I can take any toilet breaks without stress and if I do get another really nasty bout of cellulitis I can travel back. She thinks I am becoming trapped by my health issues - I have had a few in the last ten years with cancer and hip and spinal surgery but the two current active ones have left me a little worn out. I would welcome anyone's advice or comments. I am 63 and was forced to retire on health grounds, love my family etc but the thought of car, plane, car is just daunting for me at the moment. Carolo

23 Replies

  • How difficult for you. Your daughter probably has no idea how worn out you are and is just wanting you to enjoy the grandchildren. Can your GP prescribe antibiotics to take with you to start immediately there is a sign of cellulitis so that you don't get it badly enough to need hospital admission. I know GPs do this. I also wonder if there is any drug you can take for your Crohn's just to tide you over the two journies? It would be worth asking your doctor. I hope you can find a solution.

  • Thanks for your response. I do have two first line antibiotics for the lymphoedema that I carry around and do also have a number of drugs for crohns. I love the grandchildren dearly and do see them a lot and pick them up from school and have holidayed with them but this year I don't feel I can travel by car, then plane , then car. If it were nearer I'd go. Perhaps next year. Regards carolo

  • Hi Carolo, I think stress might make you unwell by itself. Maybe travelling by train will make you less worried but Sleevelady's suggestion of taking antibiotics with you will make you more relaxed. Also, some natural vitamin D from the sun there will make you feel in general much better. Will your daughter rely on you to help her with the children? I went on a short trip with my daughter and children in the UK and took my antibiotics with me.

  • Thanks. I have holidayed with the family a number of times but this year I don't feel I can do a three part journey to be honest. I do carry antibiotics with me to start immediately but the last bout of cellulitis I had did not respond to oral antibiotics and meant ten days of I v antibiotics. Because I am allergic to penicillin the antibiotics I then take can cause problems with Crohns. I would be happy to go with them to a place we both agreed on but I don't feel I can make it to Southern Spain by car, then plane, then car. Another time and another place I think. I just don't want them to think they are the reason I can't make it regards carolo

  • Hi Carolo,

    It's very easy to feel under pressure to do what family members want, especially if they mean well, but you probably wouldn't enjoy the holiday because of your worries about the journey. Family holidays can be quite stressful anyway, without the potential hazards of your medical problems. I don't agree with your daughter that you are becoming trapped by your health issues - if that were true, you wouldn't be thinking of leaving the house! You are just making allowances for your condition to make life easier and If I were in your situation, I would opt for the more restful option of driving to France. My lymphodema is quite minor at present, yet I've still had to change the way I live my life to accommodate it.

    I hope things work out for you. Good Luck!

  • Thanks Jenny. I do get on ok really but always have to be aware of access to toilets etc and problems on a plane are my worst nightmare! Plus I have to say this last bout of cellulitis I did find a bit scary. It went from a minor red spot to tracking cellulitis with 12 hours despite starting antibiotics straight away. I do love the kids and have holidayed with them but this is one I shall have to leave. It does help to sound people out. Thanks carolo

  • You don't say if you are on prophylactic (preventative) antibiotics. This is essential if you have more than 2 episodes of cellulitis in one year. Use the information on the LSN website on cellulitis to show your doctor. Don't beat yourself up about the travelling. It is horrible and stressful trying to travel with a bowel condition.

  • Thanks. I can't take prophylactics or it has been deemed unwise as I am allergic to penicillin and the only other potential choice for that is erythromycin which might impact on my gut. Did discuss this with specialists concerned . Many thanks for response. Carolo

  • Similarly to you, I was having the recurrent cellulitis, and likewise my first episode put me in hospital for 15 days, the doctors told me I was having the Domestos treatment - killing all known germs. Seriously though I am on a prophylactic erythromycin, and have a 2 week course to hand of clindomycin for any bouts of cellulitis. Touch wood it is working and have been cellulitis free for about 5 months now. I am able to recognise the early onset of the cellulitis, and the last time I had the signal, I was straight onto my clindo and within 24 hours I felt fine, rather than the two or three days of being really poorly and a slowish recovery. I don't know if it is the combined effects of the the prophy and the clindo, but knowing that the cellulitis will only get me for about a day has really boosted my confidence and if I had your quandary knowing what I know now, nothing would stop me. But as everyone knows each person who suffers from lymphoedema is different.

    Which ever way you choose, enjoy your holiday!

  • Hi I have had breast cancer and have lymphoedema in my left arm. Whilst I was on chemo I had cellulitis in my right leg and was in hospital for some time on intravenous antibiotics. I also suffer from asthma and hiatus hernia as well as IBS. I am 58 years of age and also finished work for health reasons but all of this does not stop me going to Malta on holiday, in fact this year we are considering going to Cyprus or somewhere else. I am allergic to penicillin and Erythromycin also has an effect on my gut, I take Clarythromycin which is a very good antibiotic. I do not think spain is too far to travel, but speak to your doctor and see what they think first.

  • Thanks for that. I do go on holidays but this year with some difficult symptoms I am reluctant to commit to a journey that could pose some problems for me. I had booked to go to Bruges but missed that when I had to be admitted in October. The trouble with cellulitis in an area of lymphoedema is that it can be difficult to manage. Good to hear u can travel well. Carolo

  • How difficult this must be for you. I cannot comment on the Crohns side of your situation. I too have secondary lymphoedema in my right arm and had regular bouts of cellulitis. Since last May, I have been on low dose penicillin which has prevented further bouts. When I go away anywhere, I have a 2 weeks supply of stronger antibiotics and also if that doesn't do the trick, I have an even stronger one to take with me. I know you say you are allergic to penicillin but it sounds as though there are other antibiotics available to try. I did find if I take the antibiotics immediately there is a slight hint of cellulitis, it didn't take hold. I recently travelled to California for 2 weeks - I was a bit concerned about the lymphoedema on the flight but I was fine - I made sure that I did plenty of exercise for the arm. It seems a shame to miss out on a family holiday in the sun which can only be benificial. You must make sure that the family do not take advantage of you to look after the children if you feel you cannot manage it. You need to discuss your concerns with them before you go. I think I would be more concerned about my lymphoedema sitting in a car to France as you have more restricted movement. I hope you make the right decision for you and, sometimes, we have to make decisions which are against our better judgement but work out well in the end. Please talk to your GP and/or lymphoedema nurse (I hope you have on as mine is brilliant) and see if there are other options for you. Good luck and I will be thinking of you

  • Thanks chrissie

  • Hi Carolo - I have 3 friends who are in a similar position to you. 1 recently (October) spent 2 weeks in a Turkish hospital, having been bitten by a mossie on her first night in the country. She has vowed she will not be doing that again, and will now holiday closer to home. The other 2 have opted for UK based holidays as the preparation for going abroad has become a pain in the proverbial. Their families have been brilliant about it - and once she has fully recovered from her Turkish experience, they are planning a holiday in a luxury self-catering cottage in Devon (it sleeps 10 and has an indoor swimming pool - quite fancy it myself!!!)

    I have clients who do holiday abroad, but make sure that they get direct flights, and find a venue within an hours drive of the airport. They go armed with prophylactic anti-biotics, factor 5000 sun cream, floaty clothes (no direct sunlight etc) and stay well hydrated and swim alot (does wonders for their lymphoedema).

    Have to say that two friends with Crohn's, like you, have to know where all the 'facilities' are before they go anywhere - they have not gone abroad on holiday - but did come and stay with me when I lived in Brussels - they used the Eurostar! (There used to be loos on the road to Calais which were squat toilets - my daughters refused to use them, so we had to put our foot down to get to the ferry terminal!!!)

  • Thanks Lynora. I was beginning to feel a bit wimpish but the last thing I want is a repeat performance of October and the problem with having to have Clindamycin is that it affects my Chrohns. I felt stuck between a rock and a hard place, my thoughts are I am happy to go with the family but I would want the things you mention I don't want to be stuck miles from anywhere. After being diagnosed with Chrohns it took me awhile to bey my confidence back and of course the medicine I take for it steroids etc lower my immune response. I think my daughter thinks I have very fixed views on where I would go

    But at the end of the day I am managing the best way I can and I do go out and about but I feel I do have constraints in order to manage ok. Thanks again carolo

  • I think you are brave. It sounds like you have many things you are juggling with in your life. I am so pleased you are managing all of them. Everyone has constraints. Please trust your own instincts and feelings, do not do anything against your own will.

  • Thanks it's been so helpful to get comments. I don't no any one else locally who has lymphoedema Or crohns and it's the combination of the two that makes management a bit tricky sometimes. I do try and keep active, have outside interests and see loads of the grandchildren but I just can't seem to sometimes get my daughter to understand that the concerns I have are real ones.

  • Hi I also have recurrent bouts of cellulitis, 5 in the last 2 years. I also have secondary lymphodema in my arm from breast cancer 7 years ago. I am now 61. My daughter lives in Canada and I try to fly over at least once a year to see her and the Grandchildren. I don't seem to find the flying such a problem but I do find the jet lag a problem on arriving back in the UK as the tiredness and adjusting to the time again I think lowers my immunity and I will sometimes get cellulitis then. I can understand you wanting to be cautious and not over do it. I am on prophalatic antibiotics but still got cellulitis just before Christmas. I am now trying to take manuka honey once a day which is supposed to help the immune system. Also taking colloidal silver is supposed to help too and a plant called Malunggay but I have yet to try and prove and do more research. I understand how much you want to avoid the next onslaught of cellulitis very much.

  • Thanks I must look at that .

  • I have primary in my legs and left arm and in truth we have to manage the condition because there is nothing else to do.

    I find traveling of any sort can aggravate the situation, we don't use the muscles the same while sitting and even although I wear compression it takes a couple of days to calm down again.

    If you combine travel and heat you may struggle to actually recover during your holiday away.

    We opt now for holidays in the UK as we take the car journey slow, have long walks on the journey and I feel so much better, although our last summer was hell

  • Thanks. That's what I have mainly done because of the Chrohns as well. I did manage a mini cruise to Amsterdam and enjoyed that but heal and flying do worry me and I feel happier taking my car and doing just what you do.

  • did you guys and guyesses know that antibiotics wipe out all the B vitamins from the body? It can take months to recover from even one antibiotic course. It is no wonder so many of you feel crashed out and tired.

  • There is some on line advice about cellulitis on the LSN website

    which might be useful for you to read. It suggests that you take an in case prescription for 2 weeks of antibiotics so you can start them as soon as you have symptoms if you travel. It is a delicate balancing act particularly when you have other conditions to consider but it is a shame when it effects your ability to spend time doing what you want to do.

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