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Preventing Recurrent Leg Cellulitis with Penicillin


Professor Alison Layton

Honorary Professor



About the research

This research was conducted by a team of researchers including Professor Alison Layton as part of the U.K. Dermatology Clinical Trials Network's PATCH I Trial Team. 

This research was a controlled trial conducted with patients who had experienced two or more episodes of cellulitis of the leg. The study was carried out in 28 hospitals in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

The researchers compared the effects of prophylactic low-dose penicillin with a placebo for the prevention of recurrent cellulitis. The study medications were dispensed by a central pharmacy and the patients were followed up for up to 3 years. 

Industry application

The research was conducted in the healthcare industry, specifically in the field of dermatology and infectious diseases.

Study findings

50% reduced risk of recurrence in cellulitis of the leg; suggested the merits of prophylactic penicillin in high-risk groups. (N Eng J Med, 2013)

The study found that penicillin was effective in preventing subsequent attacks of cellulitis during the prophylaxis phase. The median time to a first recurrence of cellulitis was longer in the penicillin group compared to the placebo group.

During the prophylaxis phase, fewer participants in the penicillin group had a recurrence compared to the placebo group. However, once the drug therapy was stopped, there was no difference between the groups in the rate of a first recurrence.

Overall, participants in the penicillin group had fewer repeat episodes than those in the placebo group.


Thomas KS, Crook AM, Nunn AJ, Foster KA, Mason JM, Chalmers JR, Nasr IS, Brindle RJ, English J, Meredith SK, Reynolds NJ, de Berker D, Mortimer PS, Williams HC; U.K. Dermatology Clinical Trials Network's PATCH I Trial Team. Penicillin to prevent recurrent leg cellulitis. N Engl J Med. 2013 May 2;368(18):1695-703. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1206300. PMID: 23635049. 

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