Sulfamethoxazole-Trimethoprim (Cotrimoxazole) for Skin and Soft Tissue Infections including Impetigo, Cellulitis, and Abscess

Asha C. Bowen, Jonathan R. Carapetis, Bart J. Currie, Vance Fowler, Henry F. Chambers, Steven Y.C. Tong

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Skin and soft tissue infections (SSTI) affect millions of people globally, which represents a significant burden on ambulatory care and hospital settings. The role of sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim (SXT) in SSTI treatment, particularly when group A Streptococcus (GAS) is involved, is controversial. We conducted a systematic review of clinical trials and observational studies that address the utility of SXT for SSTI treatment, caused by either GAS or Staphylococcus aureus, including methicillin-resistant (MRSA). We identified 196 studies, and 15 underwent full text review by 2 reviewers. Observational studies, which mainly focused on SSTI due to S aureus, supported the use of SXT when compared with clindamycin or β-lactams. Of 10 randomized controlled trials, 8 demonstrated the efficacy of SXT for SSTI treatment including conditions involving GAS. These findings support SXT use for treatment of impetigo and purulent cellulitis (without an additional β-lactam agent) and abscess and wound infection. For nonpurulent cellulitis, β-lactams remain the treatment of choice.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberofx232
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalOpen Forum Infectious Diseases
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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