Erysipelas is a type of cellulitis (skin infection) generally caused by group A Streptococcus bacteria.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Erysipelas may affect both children and adults. The risk factors associated with this infection include a cut in the skin, skin ulcers, and problems with the drainage through the veins or lymph system.
In the past, the face was most commonly involved site of infection, yet now accounts for only up to 20% of cases. The legs are affected in up to 80% of cases.
- Skin lesion with a raised border
- Painful, very red, swollen, and warm skin underneath the lesion
- Facial erysipelas lesions on the cheeks and the bridge of the nose
- Fever, shaking, and chills
Signs and tests
The diagnosis of erysipelas is based on how the skin looks. A biopsy of the skin is usually not needed.
Antibiotics such as penicillin are used to eliminate the infection. In severe cases, antibiotics may need to be given through an IV (intravenous line).
Those who have repeated episodes of erysipelas may need long-term antibiotics.
With treatment, the outcome is good. It may take a few weeks for the skin to return to normal. Peeling is common.
In some patients, the bacteria may travel to the blood. This results in a condition called bacteremia. The infection may spread to the heart valves, joints, and bones.
Other complications include:
- Septic shock
- Recurrence of infection
Calling your health care provider
Call your health care provider if you have a skin lesion that has features of erysipelas.
Maintain healthy skin by avoiding dry skin and preventing cuts and scrapes. This may reduce the risk for the development of erysipelas.