Patient's Complete Guide to Erysipelas

Overview of Erysipelas

Erysipelas (Turkhbada Jildi Marz / ترخبادہ جلدی مرض) is a rare skin disorder. It is an infection of the upper layer of skin (superficial layer). It is also defined as superficial cellulitis with dermal lymphatic involvement.
It is also known as St.Anthony’s Fire because of the intense rash associated with it.
The most common cause is group A streptococcal bacteria, especially Streptococcus pyogenes. A fiery red rash with raised edges is the indication of erysipelas with the skin being warm to the touch.
Erysipelas was found to affect only the face, but recent studies have concluded that almost 80% of cases involve rash on the leg, (and sometimes arms and trunk.)

Erysipelas Occurrence

The most common cause of erysipelas is found in infants and adults but it can affect any age group. 2 out of 10,000 people are affected every year by this condition.

Signs and Symptoms of Erysipelas

The most common symptoms of erysipelas are:

  • Bright red, firm and swollen skin surface
  • Rash with sharp, red and raised edges
  • Blisters
  • Swollen glands
  • Fever
  • Chills

Causes of Erysipelas

It is a bacterial infection that can be caused by:

  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Klebsiella pneumoniae
  • Escherichia coli
  • Haemophilus influenzae
  • S. warneri, Streptococcus pneumoniae
  • S. pyogenes, and Moraxella species
  • Methicillin-resistant S. aureus [MRSA]

 

Risk Factors of Erysipelas

Possible risk factors for this disorder are:

  • Immune deficiency
  • Current or prior injury including trauma and surgery and infection
  • Nasopharyngeal infection
  • Nephrotic syndrome
  • History of erysipelas
  • Immunity compromised due to diabetes, alcoholism, obesity etc
  • Skin ulcers

Health Complications of Erysipelas

If left untreated erysipelas can cause the following complications:

  • Lymphedema

Bacterial invasion can cause serious disruption in the lymphatic system. The person may suffer from lymph buildup in the body. It also increases the chances of erysipelas.

  • Abscess

Formations of pus-filled cavities on various skin regions all over the body.

  • Bacteremia

From the invasion, the bacteria may travel in the blood. This can also cause serious joint, bone and cardiac issues.

  • Meningitis

Facial erysipelas can lead to this serious medical condition.

  • Recurrent infections

At the same affected site, recurrent infections can occur.

  • Septicemia

Bacterial infection can change blood composition.

  • Gangrene

The blood flow is interrupted to the major organs. This is a fatal medical condition because it can result in organ damage.

  • Renal Failure

Severe cases can result in kidney damage.

Prevention

Steps that can be taken to lower the risk of erysipelas are:

  • Moisturize the skin daily
  • Keep wounds clean
  • Treat skin infections or disorders promptly
  • Don't scratch the skin

Diagnosis

A diagnosis is given by the doctor by physical exam. Complete and thorough patient history is taken and all of the symptoms are accounted for.
The characteristic rash is a big indicator for erysipelas.
Lab tests for diagnosis include:

Treatment of Erysipelas | When to Consult a Doctor

Following treatments can be done to effectively lessen and treat erysipelas:

Home Remedy

  • Cold packs and analgesics to relieve local discomfort
  • Elevation of an infected limb to reduce local swelling
  • Compression stockings
  • Wound care with saline dressings that are frequently changed

Antibiotics

  • Oral or IV penicillin
  • In case of penicillin allergy, erythromycin, roxithromycin, or pristinamycin is given
  • For MRSA, Vancomycin is given

Erysipelas resembles other rashes closely. Therefore, you need to visit a dermatologist to get yourself treated.

Speciality for Erysipelas

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