Erysipelas

Erysipelas is a skin infection that is most often caused by group A streptococcal bacteria, but in children, erysipelas may be due to Hemophilus influenza bacteria.

The infection affects the top layers of the skin and occurs when bacteria is allowed into the skin through a cut, scrape, sore or surgical incision.

Symptoms of Erysipelas

Erysipelas, also called Saint Anthony’s Fire due to the bright red rash it produces, is seen in both children and adults.

The onset of erysipelas is sudden and usually starts with a high fever accompanied by chills. Swollen lymph nodes are also common.

The trademark fiery, red rash develops within 48 hours. The raised rash has sharply defined borders and is usually seen on the face, ears or lower legs. The skin affected by the rash may be painful, swollen and warm to touch.

Blisters may form and later scab over and erysipelas lesions may also develop.

Treatment of Erysipelas

Antibiotics are used to treat the infection causing erysipelas. Oral antibiotics are often effective, but intravenous (through the vein) antibiotics may be needed if the infection is severe. In some cases, your dermatologist may suggest long-term antibiotics.

Prevention

The best prevention for erysipelas is protecting skin from injury such as burns, abrasions, bruises or other wounds. Erysipelas may also develop at an incision site following a surgical procedure. To reduce the risk of erysipelas, use good hand washing techniques and avoid touching wounds and incisions.

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