What Is Erysipelas?
We can define erysipelas like a superficial infection of the skin, which ordinarily involve the lymphatic system. This type of infection is also known as St. Anthony’s Fire. That is an accurate description of the strength and intensity of this rash. In some cases especially in infants, erysipelas were a feared disease in pre-antibiotic days. In most cases erysipelas is caused by bacteria called Streptococcus Group A. Other erysipelas cases may come from other bacteria types like Staphylococcus or other type of Streptococcus bacteria.
In the past decades this type of infection was found mainly on the face. Nowadays it is seen most commonly on the lower legs. The infection tends to occur in regions where the lymphatic system is obstructed. A cluster of signs and symptoms of erysipelas typically precedes the appearance of the rash by 4-48 hours. Main symptoms include fever, fatigue, chills, anorexia and vomiting.
After some time the rash quickly appears as a bright red, hot, shiny, swollen patch that has clearly defined borders. This type of infection is diagnosed mainly by the appearance of the rash. Skin biopsies and blood tests generally do not help make the diagnosis.
Erysipelas is treated with antibiotics , different antibiotics may be used including dicloxacillin, penicillin, cephalosporins, erytromycin and clidamycin. Usually oral treatment is enough to cure this type of skin infection. Medical researches have shown that recurrence is possible in the range 18-30%.
Cellulitis and Erysipelas
As we already mentioned on this site cellulitis medical condition is a spreading bacterial infection of the deep layers of skin and subcutaneous tissues. Usually causes local symptoms of inflammation, such as warmth, pain, erythema, lymphangitis, and frequently systemic upset with fever and raised white blood cell count.
Erysipelas is a form of cellulitis and is characterized by pronounced superficial inflammation. The term erysipelas is commonly used when the face is affected. The lower limbs are by far the most common sites affected by cellulitis and erysipelas, but any area, such as the ears, trunk, fingers, and toes, can be affected.
Cellulitis infection symptoms and signs may include chills and fever, also swollen glands or lymph nodes. The patient’s skin is red, tender and painful to touch on affected area. Also blister and then scab over are not rare. Perianal cellulitis is characterized by itching and painful bowel movements. In case of erysipelas fiery red rash with raised borders usually takes place on legs, face or arms. The infected skin area is red, hot and have sharply defined raised areas. Recurrence of erysipelas infection is possible with symptoms such as chronic swelling of legs or hands (lymphedema).
Erysipelas and cellulitis infection can begin with minor skin trauma (cuts, bruise etc.). Also we can get these infections by wound or surgical cut which are usually placed on the leg or arm. In a time when the rash appears on the patient’s legs or arms, usually at the site of a surgical cut or wound. Even when the individual has no symptoms of infection, he often carries bacteria on the skin or in the nose and considers as potential transmitters of disease to all others.
In diagnosing process doctor may take samples of skin culture to identify the exact type of bacteria causing disease. Also blood test samples are not rare. Treatment is usually with antibiotics, which can be applied orally or IV depending on severity of infection.
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Last article update: 01/03/2019