Erysipelas - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
Erysipelas is an acute disease of the skin and subcutaneous tissue. Erysipelas may be caused by a species of hemolytic streptococcus and marked by localized inflammation and fever. Erysipelas may be characterized by a sharply demarcated, shiny red swelling, accompanied by high fever and a feeling of general illness. The affected area may be feeled warm or hot to the touch. This disease is most common among the elderly, infants, and children.
Erysipelas is a highly contagious disease that was formerly dangerous to life; however, it can now be quickly controlled by antibiotic therapy. Erysipelas is also called Saint Anthony's fire.
Erysipelas may be caused by the bacteria called Streptococcus pyogenes. Erysipelas infections can enter the skin through minor trauma, eczema, surgical incisions and ulcers, and often originate from strep bacteria in the subject's own nasal passages. Erysipelas usually occurs rather abruptly. When the preceding infection was strep throat, the rash begins on the face. It may also be occasioned by drinking to excess, by continuing too long in a warm bath or by any thing that overheats the blood.
Erysipelas may be occasioned by violent passions or affections of the mind; as fear, anger, &c. When the body has been heated to a great degree. In the past, the face was most commonly involved yet now accounts for only up to 20% of cases. The lower extremities are affected in up to 80% of cases.
The infection may occur on any part of the skin including the face, arms, fingers, legs and toes, but it tends to favor the extremities.
The symptoms of the erysipelas may be included:
While illness symptoms resolve in a day or two, the skin may take weeks to return to normal.
Depending on the severity, treatment involves either oral or intravenous antibiotics, using penicillins or erythromycin
Infections that do not improve with oral antibiotics require IV antibiotics administered in the hospital.
Cold packs and pain relievers may help decrease discomfort. Within about five to 10 days, the affected skin may begin drying up and flaking off.
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