You have prob­a­bly heard about this dis­ease, but did not know what it is. In a new arti­cle, we will tell you what erysipelas is, what are its symp­toms and which doc­tor should I go to?

what is erysipelas


What is erysipelas

Erysipelas or erysipelas — a seri­ous com­mon bac­te­r­i­al dis­ease of the skin and sub­cu­ta­neous tis­sue. It is caused by infec­tion with group A strep­to­coc­ci (beta-hemolyt­ic strep­to­coc­cus), it can occur in two forms:

  • acute or pri­ma­ry;
  • chron­ic (recur­rent).

Erysipelas symptoms

The main symp­tom of erysipelas — These are foci of red­ness with local hyper­ther­mia (affect­ed areas of the skin are warmer than oth­er parts of the body). Such foci appear in the low­er leg, ankle and foot, but can also appear in the upper body: on the face and body.

Erysipelas is char­ac­ter­ized by dam­age to the upper lay­ers of the skin, as well as sub­cu­ta­neous tis­sue, lym­phat­ic ves­sels. How­ev­er, it should not be con­fused with shin­gles, rosacea, or mumps. This dis­ease has its own, very dis­tinct symp­toms that dis­tin­guish erysipelas from sim­i­lar dis­eases.

The face is usu­al­ly easy to iden­ti­fy. The con­clu­sion is based on typ­i­cal symp­toms: high fever and red, swollen, painful, one-sided patch of skin. In addi­tion, blood lev­els of CRP and white blood cell count increase inflam­ma­tion.



Symp­toms of erysipelas:

  • sud­den onset of high fever and chills;
  • very hot and uni­form red­ness and swelling of the skin;
  • the erysipelas are usu­al­ly one-sided, that is, they occur on only one limb;
  • nau­sea;
  • headache;
  • gen­er­al weak­ness and malaise;
  • the appear­ance of liq­uid blis­ters, bleed­ing from the affect­ed areas.

The erysipelas tends to get worse. As the dis­ease pro­gress­es, a wound or sub­cu­ta­neous abscess may form in part of the area affect­ed by erysipelas.

BE ATTENTIVE TO YOUR HEALTH! Erysipelas can progress to a seri­ous gen­er­al­ized infec­tion, sep­sis. Don’t for­get about your health!

It is also impor­tant to be aware of erysipelas in an atyp­i­cal area, such as the face. Erysipelas in this area often begins at the ear­lobe. The ear­lobe and then the cheek are swollen, hot and sore. Fever and feel­ing of sick­ness may be absent in the region of the facial nerve.

It is also worth pay­ing atten­tion to sec­ond type, chron­ic. With repeat­ed erysipelas, the lym­phat­ic ves­sels are destroyed, and the limb con­stant­ly swells.

Erysipelas and other diseases: differences

It is impor­tant to dis­tin­guish erysipelas from oth­er dis­eases that cause red­ness and swelling. Red­ness of the skin also occurs, for exam­ple, with wet infec­tions such as abscess­es, wet skin infec­tions, and joint infec­tions. Swelling, pain, and red­ness can also be asso­ci­at­ed with low­er extrem­i­ty vein throm­bo­sis, but usu­al­ly they do not increase the tem­per­a­ture, and the patient usu­al­ly has some pre­dis­pos­ing fac­tor.

For treat­ment, it is impor­tant to dis­tin­guish a rose from a necrot­ic infec­tion.

Necro­tiz­ing fasci­itis is a rare, life-threat­en­ing soft tis­sue infec­tion that pro­gress­es rapid­ly and is asso­ci­at­ed with sub­cu­ta­neous tis­sue necro­sis. Dan­ger signs include severe pain and swelling out­side the skin, skin numb­ness, blis­ter­ing, and severe gen­er­al symp­toms. In addi­tion to intra­venous antibi­ot­ic admin­is­tra­tion, emer­gency surgery is required for treat­ment.

erysipelas disease


Causes of the disease: erysipelas

The erysipelas eas­i­ly returns and it is also easy to pick it up. Skin lesions that pre­dis­pose to erysipelas, such as a fun­gal infec­tion between the toes, an incu­ba­tion, or an ulcer on the foot. The risk of infec­tion is increased by low­er extrem­i­ty ede­ma, lym­phede­ma, over­weight, dia­betes, impaired arte­r­i­al or venous blood flow to the extrem­i­ties, and a his­to­ry of rose dis­ease.

Prevention of erysipelas

The ques­tion of erysipelas pre­ven­tion still remains open. How­ev­er, it is worth try­ing to influ­ence the risk fac­tors as much as pos­si­ble, as this may be more ben­e­fi­cial than the pre­ven­tion of erysipelas:

  • After heal­ing, make sure that there is no fun­gus on the toes and that the skin in any case remains in good con­di­tion.
  • It is impor­tant to look for and elim­i­nate expo­sures that can cause skin dam­age, such as chang­ing unsuit­able shoes.
  • Swelling should be treat­ed, espe­cial­ly if the patient has a leg ulcer. Swelling can be treat­ed, for exam­ple, with com­pres­sion socks, a com­pres­sion ban­dage, or com­pres­sion ther­a­py.
  • Lym­phother­a­py may be used for severe lym­phede­ma.

Erysipelas treatment

If there is a sus­pi­cion of erysipelas, you should imme­di­ate­ly go to the emer­gency room. Most often, it is treat­ed with the antibi­ot­ic peni­cillin, which acts on beta-hemolyt­ic strep­to­coc­ci. In a patient in good con­di­tion, the drug can be tak­en oral­ly from the very begin­ning. Ini­tial­ly, peni­cillin should be giv­en as an intra­venous or intra­mus­cu­lar injec­tion if the inflam­ma­tion is severe, the patient has a fever, or hos­pi­tal­iza­tion is required. How­ev­er, the antibi­ot­ic can be switched to oral ther­a­py when a clear response is seen.

For antibi­ot­ic treat­ment, a total dura­tion of 7–14 days is usu­al­ly suf­fi­cient.

Erysipelas is not cured by self-care alone, and antibi­ot­ic treat­ment is always nec­es­sary. The erysipelas area can be cooled and relieved with cold com­press­es, for exam­ple 2–3 times a day. To reduce swelling, the limb is placed in an ele­vat­ed posi­tion. Sup­port­ive dress­ings can speed up heal­ing.

Which doctor to go to if you suspect erysipelas

Since erysipelas is pri­mar­i­ly an infec­tious dis­ease, it is worth going to an infec­tious dis­ease doc­tor, and not to a der­ma­tol­o­gist, as it may seem at first.

Is it possible to treat erysipelas at home

No. Unless you’re a doc­tor. Sim­ply put: if you are not an infec­tious dis­ease doc­tor, you can­not treat erysipelas at home. If this dis­ease is not prop­er­ly treat­ed, it can cause com­pli­ca­tions.

Now you know a lot more about health.