MSD Manual

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Erysipelas

By

Wingfield E. Rehmus

, MD, MPH, University of British Columbia

Reviewed/Revised Jun 2023
VIEW PROFESSIONAL VERSION
Topic Resources

Symptoms of Erysipelas

Erysipelas causes a shiny, painful, red, raised patch on the skin. The edges have distinct borders and do not blend into the nearby normal skin. The patch feels warm and firm to the touch. Erysipelas occurs most frequently on the legs and face.

People often have a high fever, chills, and a general feeling of illness (malaise).

In another form of erysipelas, blisters form on the skin.

Diagnosis of Erysipelas

  • A doctor's evaluation

Doctors base the diagnosis of erysipelas on the characteristic appearance of the patch.

Sometimes doctors send blood samples to a laboratory to identify the bacteria (called a culture) if the person is very sick.

Treatment of Erysipelas

  • Antibiotics

Antibiotics given by mouth, such as penicillin, can cure the infection.

If doctors suspect the person has MRSA, an antibiotic such as sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim, clindamycin, or doxycycline is given by mouth, but, if the infection is severe, vancomycin or linezolid is given by vein.

Cold packs and medications for pain may relieve discomfort.

Fungal foot infections may be an entry site for infection and may require treatment with antifungal medications to prevent recurrence.

Compression stockings may be worn on the legs to lessen swelling caused by erysipelas.

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: VIEW PROFESSIONAL VERSION
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