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
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).
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;
- 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.
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.
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.