Erysipelas (patient information)
Erysipelas On the Web
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Erysipelas is a skin inflammatory disease that is caused by infection by streptococcal and staphylococcal bacteria. It usually manifests with a painful, raised red rash that with distinct borders from normal skin. Symptoms can also include fever, chills, fatigue, headaches, and vomiting. It is important to diagnose and treat Erysipelas as soon as possible to prevent possibly life-threatening complications.
What are the symptoms of Erysipelas?
- Painful, red, swollen, and warm skin underneath a sore with raised borders around normal skin
What causes Erysipelas?
Erysipelas is usually caused by group A streptococcus bacterial infection, but can also be caused by group B, C, and G streptococcus infection as well. Rarely, Erysipelas can be caused by Staphylococcus aureus or Streptococcus pneumoniae infection.
Who is at highest risk?
Individuals displaying the following traits are at highest risk for developing Erysipelas:
- Overweight or obesity
- History of breast cancer and mastectomy as treatment
- Aged 55 years and older
- Diagnosed with venous insufficiency
- Weakened immune system from illness or medication
- Having open cuts or skin abrasions, as well as ulcers
Erysipelas is usually diagnosed with a physical examination of the affected skin. Laboratory tests may be performed to confirm the exact cause of Erysipelas, including a swabbing for a culture analysis, to determine the best treatment regimen.
When to seek urgent medical care?
You should seek urgent medical care if you experience any of the symptoms indicative of Erysipelas. It is crucial to begin antibiotic treatment as soon as possible to relieve the current symptoms and prevent future spread of bacterial infection to avoid complications.
Where to find medical care for Erysipelas?
What to expect (Outlook/Prognosis)?
- Without treatment, the prognosis of Erysipelas varies based on the development of complications from the infectious cause, some of which can be life-threatening.
- With treatment, prognosis is good and full recovery is expected.
Possible complications of Erysipelas result from the spread of infection to the bloodstream, muscles, joints, and bones, as well as worsened symptoms of the skin:
- Necrotizing fasciitis
- Bursitis, arthritis, tendinitis, osteitis
- Septic shock
- Toxic shock syndrome
Prevention of Erysipelas
Preventing Erysipelas includes avoiding skin cuts, abrasions, and ulcers. It includes maintaining a healthy weight and hygienic cautionary measures to avoid streptococcal infection, including staying healthy, washing hands frequently, and avoiding physical contact with streptococcus patients.