Cefoxitin Side Effects

Not all side effects for cefoxitin may be reported. You should always consult a doctor or healthcare professional for medical advice. Side effects can be reported to the FDA here.

For the Consumer

Applies to cefoxitin: intravenous powder for solution, intravenous solution

In addition to its needed effects, some unwanted effects may be caused by cefoxitin. In the event that any of these side effects do occur, they may require medical attention.

If any of the following side effects occur while taking cefoxitin, check with your doctor or nurse immediately:

More common
  • Changes in skin color
  • pain
  • swelling of the foot or leg
  • tenderness
  • Agitation
  • coma
  • confusion
  • decreased urine output
  • depression
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • hostility
  • irritability
  • lethargy
  • muscle twitching
  • nausea
  • rapid weight gain
  • seizures
  • stupor
  • swelling of the face, ankles, or hands
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
Incidence not known
  • Abdominal or stomach cramps or tenderness
  • back, leg, or stomach pains
  • bleeding and bruising
  • bleeding gums
  • blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin
  • bloating
  • bloody or cloudy urine
  • bloody, black, or tarry stools
  • chest pain
  • chills
  • clay-colored stools
  • cloudy urine
  • cough
  • coughing up blood
  • cracks in the skin
  • dark urine
  • decrease in urine output or decrease in urine-concentrating ability
  • diarrhea
  • diarrhea, watery and severe, which may also be bloody
  • difficult or labored breathing
  • difficult or painful urination
  • difficulty with breathing, chewing, swallowing, or talking
  • dizziness
  • double vision
  • drooping eyelids
  • fast heartbeat
  • feeling of discomfort
  • fever
  • general body swelling
  • greatly decreased frequency of urination or amount of urine
  • headache
  • high fever
  • hives
  • increased menstrual flow or vaginal bleeding
  • increased thirst
  • inflammation of the joints
  • itching
  • itching of the vagina or genital area
  • joint or muscle pain
  • large, hive-like swelling on the face, eyelids, lips, tongue, throat, hands, legs, feet, or sex organs
  • loss of appetite
  • loss of heat from the body
  • muscle aches
  • muscle weakness
  • nosebleeds
  • pain during sexual intercourse
  • pale skin
  • paralysis
  • prolonged bleeding from cuts
  • puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
  • rash
  • red or black, tarry stools
  • red or dark brown urine
  • red skin lesions, often with a purple center
  • red, irritated eyes
  • red, swollen skin
  • scaly skin
  • severe tiredness
  • shortness of breath
  • sore throat
  • sores, ulcers, or white spots on the lips or in the mouth
  • sudden decrease in the amount of urine
  • swelling of the feet or lower legs
  • swollen lymph glands
  • swollen or painful glands
  • thick, white vaginal discharge with no odor or with a mild odor
  • tightness in the chest
  • troubled breathing with exertion
  • unexplained bleeding or bruising
  • unpleasant breath odor
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • unusual weight loss
  • vomiting
  • vomiting of blood
  • wheezing
  • yellowing of the eyes or skin

Some of the side effects that can occur with cefoxitin may not need medical attention. As your body adjusts to the medicine during treatment these side effects may go away. Your health care professional may also be able to tell you about ways to reduce or prevent some of these side effects. If any of the following side effects continue, are bothersome or if you have any questions about them, check with your health care professional:

More common
  • Red streaks on the skin
  • swelling, tenderness, or pain at the injection site
Incidence not known
  • Hives or welts
  • redness of the skin

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to cefoxitin: injectable powder for injection, intravenous solution


Cefoxitin is generally well-tolerated.


Hypersensitivity reactions have included pruritus, rash, exfoliative dermatitis, toxic epidermal necrolysis, urticaria, flushing, dyspnea, angioedema, anaphylaxis, interstitial nephritis, eosinophilia, and fever. Cephalosporin class antibiotics have been associated with erythema multiforme, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, and serum sickness-like reactions.

There is a 10% to 20% chance of an allergic reaction to cefoxitin (or any cephalosporin) among patients who are allergic to a penicillin.

A case of occupational contact dermatitis due to cephalosporin allergy has been reported in a nurse who prepared cephalosporin solutions for administration to patients. The dermatitis resolved after the nurse stopped preparing the solutions.


Gastrointestinal side effects have included nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and pseudomembranous colitis. Cephalosporin class antibiotics have been associated with abdominal pain and colitis.

A 60-year-old man with bilateral staghorn renal calculi, Proteus mirabilis urinary tract infection, and acute renal failure developed non-bloody diarrhea and fever associated with leukocytosis and ileus within two days after beginning cefoxitin 1 gram intravenously once a day. Sigmoidoscopy and stool pathology revealed innumerable small white plaques and Clostridium difficile toxin. The cefoxitin was stopped, vancomycin retention enemas were given (due to ileus, oral vancomycin was not tried), and the patient recovered.

A study of 374 patients demonstrated that of 21 patients developing Clostridium difficile colitis, 17.9% had received cefoxitin.

Pseudomembranous colitis may occur during or after treatment.

Nervous system

Nervous system side effects have included somnolence, dizziness, and headache. Some cephalosporin-class antibiotics have been associated with seizures, especially in patients with renal dysfunction.


Renal side effects have included increased serum creatinine and blood urea nitrogen, and acute renal failure (rare). Cephalosporin class antibiotics have been associated with renal dysfunction, toxic nephropathy, reversible, dose-related acute tubular necrosis, and interstitial nephritis. Interstitial nephritis manifests as reversible fever, azotemia, pyuria, and eosinophiluria.


Local side effects have included thrombophlebitis with intravenous administration.


Cardiovascular side effects have included hypotension.


Musculoskeletal side effects have included exacerbation of myasthenia gravis.


Hematologic side effects have included eosinophilia, leukopenia, granulocytopenia, neutropenia, anemia, hemolytic anemia, thrombocytopenia, bone marrow depression, and positive direct Coombs' test. Cephalosporin class antibiotics have been associated with aplastic anemia, hemorrhage, prolonged prothrombin time, pancytopenia, and agranulocytosis.


Hepatic side effects have included transient elevations of SGOT, SGPT, LDH, and alkaline phosphatase, and jaundice. Cephalosporin class antibiotics have been associated with hepatic dysfunction, cholestasis, and elevated bilirubin.


Genitourinary side effects associated with cephalosporin class antibiotics have included vaginitis, vaginal candidiasis, and false positive tests for urine glucose.


Other side effects associated with cephalosporin class antibiotics have included superinfection.

Other side effects associated with higher doses of cefoxitin have included an increased incidence of SGOT elevations and eosinophilia in pediatric patients.

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