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Erysipelas - Causes, Symptoms And Treatment
What is Erysipelas ?
Erysipelas is a type of cellulitis (skin infection) generally caused by group streptococcus bacteria. It particularly affects infants and the elderly, but can affect any age group. Risk factors are similar to those for other forms of cellulitis.
Causes of Erysipelas
Erysipelas usually occurs rather abruptly. When the preceding infection was strep throat, the rash begins on the face. Occasionally, when the preceding infection was of a wound from an injury or operation, the rash will appear on an arm or leg.
Symptoms of Erysipelas
The symptoms of erysipelas usually arise quite suddenly. Some of the common symptoms of Erysipelas are :-
- Blisters may develop over the skin lesion.
- General illness in the form of fevers, chills and shivering.
- The affected skin is red, swollen and may be finely dimpled (like an orange skin).
- In severe cases, walled-off areas of pus (abscesses) may develop beneath the skin.
- Cellulitis does not usually exhibit such marked swelling but shares other features with erysipelas such as pain and increased warmth of affected skin.
Treatment of Erysipelas
Some of the common treatment for treating Erysipelas are :-
- Penicillin is the drug of choice for treating erysipelas. It can usually be given by mouth, although in severe cases (or in cases of diagnosed bacteremia) it may be given through a needle placed in a vein (intravenously).
- Erythromycin may be used as an alternative in patients with penicillin allergy.
- Cold packs and pain relievers may help decrease discomfort of Erysipelas symptoms.
- If patients have recurrent attacks, long term preventive treatment with penicillin may be considered.
- Flucloxacillin (as tablets, syrup, intramuscular injections or intravenous infusions) is well name medicine for the treatment of Erysipelas.
Erysipelas complications are rare but can include: -
- If bacteremia is present, infection may spread to other areas such as joints, bones, and heart valves.
- Streptococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome (rare).
Prevention of Erysipelas
- Avoiding cuts and scrapes may reduce the risk for the development of erysipelas.
- Prevention involves appropriate and complete treatment of streptococcal infections , including strep throat and wound infections.
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