Erysipelas occurs when Staphylococcus bacteria find their way into the superficial layers of the skin and cause infection. The bacteria cause red, swollen and well-defined rashes on the lower extremities and face that feel warm and tender. The condition can arise even in the absence of cuts or wounds on the surface of the skin. Sufferers can also feel a number of discomforting symptoms like fever, fatigue and vomiting.

Patients are warned against self-medication for erysipelas as this may aggravate the condition, thus, requiring stronger antibiotics which have to be administered intravenously. In addition, the situation may complicate and even become life-threatening and recurrent. Keeping the skin healthy is crucial in preventing, or at least, reducing the chance of getting skin infections, like erysipelas.

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Causes of Erysipelas

Erysipelas or St. Anthony’s Fire develops when Group A Streptococcus bacteria enter the skin and cause infection. Other varieties of the Streptococcus bacteria have been found to cause skin infections as well. The infection may arise even without a skin abrasion or wound, although the chance of catching the infection is high if there is an open wound. When the offending bacteria finally gain entry into the skin, they quickly infect the lymphatic vessels and cause streaks on the overlying skin as well as tenderness and swelling of the lymph nodes.

Young and adult alike can be afflicted by Erysipelas. However, some people may be more vulnerable to this condition than others and because they have the predisposing factors, such as:

  • Skin abrasion
  • Skin ulcers
  • Problematic lymph system
  • Diabetes
  • HIV infection
  • Alcoholism
  • Diabetes
  • Nephrotic Syndrome

Erysipelas Symptoms

The disease is generally distinguishable by unsightly rashes that initially dominate the face but become more prominent on the lower extremities as the condition progresses. But these rashes are usually preceded by a number of systemic symptoms which patients experience 4 to 48 hours before the rashes actually appear. These include:

  • Fever
  • Shaking
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Anorexia
  • Vomiting

The rash caused by the Streptococcus bacteria appears like an orange peel that is shiny, swollen and warm to the touch. The doctor can immediately diagnose the condition even in the absence of blood work or skin biopsy. He or she will just examine the distinctive features of the rash and render his or her diagnosis.

Treatment of Erysipelas

Treatment for this ailment aims to help the patient manage the symptoms and prevent the condition from aggravating. This is also essential in getting the skin’s appearance back to normal. If left untreated, the infection may affect the joints, bones and heart valves and cause recurrent infection, or worse, septic shock.

The standard treatment for Erysipelas is antibiotics as the infection usually clears up with oral antibiotics. But this may not work with severely infected individuals. In which case, hospital admission is necessary so that administration of antibiotics intravenously can be done. Prognosis is quite good with treatment and recovery can occur in a few weeks. There is a possibility of recurrence, though, especially among individuals who have compromised immunity and problematic lymph system. That is why it is very important to have any well-defined red and swollen rashes checked by a doctor to receive the appropriate treatment.

Erysipelas Pictures

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