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Erysipelas – Pictures, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Written by Dr.Mary

What is Erysipelas?

This is a kind of bacterial caused infection which is very rare. It normally only affects the legs or the face. It’s a variant of cellulitis which is another skin disease. But, cellulitis may develop on any location on the body and may be infected by many different bacteria, where erysipelas is normally just caused by streptococcus pyogenes as well as merely developing in the locations that have already been mentioned.


One type of erysipelas, known as “swine erysipelas”, before the discovery of antibiotics was a relentless problem for farmers with pigs. Pigs normally died as well as whole farms suffered from this infection. Beginning only as lesions, in this situation, over the entire body, it would rapidly develop to do damage to organs and finally caused the pigs to die. Currently pigs are normally immunized for this erysipelas with defensive doses of antibiotics so as to avoid getting this disease.

In humans erysipelas is very rare. And, immediate treatment is needed. If left not treated, it often can damage the heart as well as the joints. When anyone looks at the biography of interesting people from the past or in past family histories, you can find the deaths of many people by erysipelas. Anybody living before the time in which antibiotics were developed would have seen this disease progressively and particularly settled in the joints and it is there where it caused an awful lot of pain. Numerous people especially in the Victorian Era became addicts to opium in an effort to deal with the pain caused by this condition.

Erysipelas Symptoms

This disease is characterized by very well demarcated areas of heat, redness, pain and swelling and also can be associated with symptoms including:

  • Pus-filled blisters
  • Face rash
  • Arm rash
  • Leg rash
  • Shiny red rash
  • Painful, extremely red, warm skin and swollen under the lesion or sore
  • Skin lesion have raised border
  • Sores – erysipelas lesions – on the bridge of the nose as well as the cheeks
  • Fever, chills and shaking
  • Enlarged and tender local lymphatic nodes
  • Headaches
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue

Currently, erysipelas is always recognizable. The face rash follows a butterfly outline, extending over the cheeks as well as the nose. The symptoms start quickly and develop a raised rash. This rash is purple or orange because of the bleeding from the smallest blood vessels into the skin. The marked swelling as well as the color of this rash is quite hard to confuse this disease with several types of cellulitis.

This rash is very painful and will come with a fever as well as chills. If there is a rash such as this, the individual should be seen by a physician as soon as possible in order to start treatment.

Erysipelas Causes

Risk factors include:

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  • Cut in the skin
  • Problems with drainage thru veins or lymphatic system
  • Skin sores or ulcers

Anybody can develop erysipelas although it develops mostly among the elderly as well as the exceptionally young. There are many factors for developing this disease. Often this bacterium will enter a new wound from surgery and any swelling surrounding the wound normally indicates in most case some kind of cellulitis. Pimples, insect bites as well as cuts can all put a person at risk to the underlying bacteria. Bacteria are normally found in the nasal area and are accountable for the majority of cases of erysipelas established on the area of the face.

Several groups are much more prone to developing erysipelas. A person with a disease which is autoimmune such as HIV or lupus is most prone. Those with poor blood flow thru veins which are blocked, heart function which is reduced or heart defect are also most apt to get this infection. Individuals who exist in any constant unsanitary conditions, for instance the homeless appear to be more disposed to develop erysipelas. Also, alcoholism is another risk issue for developing erysipelas as well as a multitude of additional infections.

Erysipelas Treatment

In the early stages treatment consist of a 2-weeks of doses of oral penicillin or a penicillin-derivative antibiotic. If the individual is allergic to penicillin, some of the newest antibiotics may be used instead. In cases of erysipelas which are severe, antibiotics may need to be given thru an intravenous line or IV.

Erysipelas spreads quickly, eventually settling in the joints. When the rash on the legs or face is left untreated, those with this infection will need to be treated with lifelong daily doses of antibiotics to keep this infection in the joints to a minimum. But most of the times the symptoms and signs of this infection are so marked as well as painful, people will seek treatment rapidly.

In some individuals, the bacteria may migrate to the blood. This causes a condition known as bacteremia. The infection can spread to the heart valves as well as the joints and bones.

Other complications include:

  • Septic shock
  • Return of infection

Erysipelas Pictures

pictures of Erysipelas Erysipelas on ear

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