The symptoms and treatment of erysipelas

Author: Fruzsina Anna Kovács MD


What is erysipelas?

Erysipelas is a very common disease which belongs to skin and soft tissue infections, and appears suddenly. It is characterized by the inflammation of the surface of the skin, and that of its deeper layers. It is caused by a bacterial infection, and is usually accompanied by high fever and shivering with cold.


How does erysipelas develop?

The pathogen in about 30 percent of the cases is the bacterium called Streptococcus pyogenes, but  Streptococcus haemolyticus, or less frequently, Staphylocossus aureus and other bacteria can also cause it. The discharge inducing pathogens cause inflammation entering through the little bruises. The entryway can also be a surgical area or the rupture of the dried out skin, but the small bruising caused by fungal infection between the toes is also common.


How do we diagnose erysipelas?

A typical localisation of erysipelas is the lower limb, but it can appear on any region, even on the face. During the physical examination, a flamelike redness and a local swelling can be observed, which is warmer to the touch, and particularly sensitive to pressing. The inflammation spreads quickly along the lymphways, and is often accompanied by a painful swelling of the lymphnodes.


What are the symptoms of erysipelas?

Symptoms can range from mild redness of the skin through blistery, then ulcerated, to perhaps abscessed skin infection that also affects the deeper tissues of the skin, and without treatment can even lead to a septic condition.
General symptoms can include shivering with cold, fever, lack of appetite, nausea, or even vomiting. In the case of elderly patients, the general symptoms might be milder, or lacking entirely.


How do we treat erysipelas?

The cause of the disease is treated with antibiotics, and we also use painkillers and febrifuge. Bedrest is recommended for the patient, and the limb in question should not be hanging. The antiseptic treatment of the smaller scars is necessary, lining the local skin inflammation, we can use a cooling poultice, and in the case of limb localisation and reduced symptoms, an elastic bandage. The infection may recur, therefore it is very important to also treat the skin symptoms that are suitable entryways (eg. the antifungal treatment of a fungal symptom between the toes).

If you experience any of the symptoms, book an appointment with one of our dermatologist specialists as soon as possible!
Make an appointment with:
Nóra Sárdy MD
Nóra Sárdy MD
Fruzsina Anna Kovacs MD
Fruzsina Anna Kovacs MD
Iringó Ágnes Ottó MD
Iringó Ágnes Ottó MD
Réka Szandányi MD
Réka Szandányi MD
László Képíró MD
László Képíró MD
Brigitte Diczig MD
Brigitte Diczig MD