What is Erysipelas?
Erysipelas is a skin infection caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pyogenes. It causes red, swollen, and painful skin, often with raised edges, and is usually found on the face, legs, or arms. Erysipelas can lead to severe symptoms if left untreated and may spread to the lymph nodes and bloodstream. Treatment typically involves antibiotics and wound care.
What are the causes of Erysipelas?
Erysipelas is caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pyogenes, which is commonly found on the skin and in the throat. The bacteria can enter the skin through cuts, scratches, or other breaks in the skin and cause an infection. People with weakened immune systems, such as those with chronic conditions like diabetes or heart disease, are more likely to develop erysipelas. Other factors that can increase the risk of erysipelas include poor hygiene, skin conditions such as eczema, and damage to the skin from radiation therapy.
What are the symptoms of Erysipelas?
The symptoms of erysipelas include:
- Red, swollen, and painful skin: The skin may be warm to the touch and have a bright red appearance, with well-defined, raised edges.
- Blisters or blisters filled with pus: These may appear along with the redness and swelling.
- High fever: A fever may accompany the skin symptoms, indicating that the body is fighting an infection.
- Fatigue: People with erysipelas may feel tired and weak.
- Chills: Some people with erysipelas may experience chills and shivers.
- Headache: A headache may accompany the other symptoms of erysipelas.
- Lymph node swelling: The lymph nodes near the affected area may be swollen and tender.
These symptoms usually develop quickly and may worsen over the course of a few days. If you suspect you have erysipelas, it’s important to seek medical attention promptly.
What treatments are available for Erysipelas?
Treatment for erysipelas typically involves antibiotics to eliminate the underlying bacterial infection. Your doctor may prescribe oral antibiotics such as penicillin or amoxicillin, or they may recommend intravenous antibiotics if the infection is severe. In addition to antibiotics, wound care is also important to promote healing and prevent the spread of the infection. This may include elevating the affected area to reduce swelling, using warm compresses, and keeping the skin clean and dry. In severe cases, hospitalization and intravenous antibiotics may be necessary. It’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully and finish all antibiotics as prescribed, even if you start feeling better, to ensure that the infection is fully treated.
How to Help Prevent Erysipelas?
There are several steps you can take to help prevent erysipelas:
- Keep your skin clean and dry: Regular hygiene practices, such as washing your hands frequently and keeping cuts and scrapes clean and covered, can help reduce your risk of developing skin infections.
- Avoid scratching or picking at your skin: Scratching or picking at cuts, blisters, or other breaks in the skin can increase your risk of infection.
- Maintain good skin health: Treating skin conditions such as eczema, and avoiding excessive exposure to the sun, can help keep your skin healthy and reduce your risk of infection.
- Manage chronic health conditions: Chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of skin infections like erysipelas. Regular medical care and management of these conditions can help reduce your risk.
- Get vaccinated: Vaccination against streptococcal infections can help prevent erysipelas, particularly in people at high risk, such as those with weakened immune systems.
- Wear protective clothing: Wearing protective clothing, such as gloves, when working with chemicals or other irritants can help prevent skin damage and reduce the risk of infection.
It’s important to seek medical attention promptly if you develop symptoms of erysipelas, as early treatment can help prevent complications and promote healing.
FAQ About Erysipelas
Who is at risk of erysipelas?
People with weakened immune systems, such as those with chronic conditions like diabetes or heart disease, are more likely to develop erysipelas.
Is erysipelas contagious?
Yes, erysipelas can be contagious and can spread from person to person through direct contact with the affected skin or through contact with contaminated objects or surfaces.
Can erysipelas be treated at home?
No, erysipelas is a serious skin infection that requires medical treatment. If you suspect you have erysipelas, it’s important to seek medical attention promptly.
How long does it take for erysipelas to clear up?
The length of time it takes for erysipelas to clear up will depend on the severity of the infection and the effectiveness of the treatment, but with proper medical care, most people will start to feel better within a few days.
Can erysipelas lead to other health problems?
Yes, if left untreated, erysipelas can lead to severe symptoms and may spread to the lymph nodes and bloodstream, potentially leading to more serious health problems.
Is there a dermatologist near me in Milwaukee that offers treatment for erysipelas?
Yes. At our Milwaukee dermatology office we offer treatment for erysipelas to patients from Milwaukee and the surrounding area. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment.