(See also Overview of Bacterial Skin Infections Overview of Bacterial Skin Infections The skin provides a remarkably good barrier against bacterial infections. Although many bacteria come in contact with or reside on the skin, they are normally unable to establish an infection... read more .)
Erysipelas is most commonly caused by Streptococcus Streptococcal Infections Streptococcal infections are caused by any one of several species of Streptococcus. These gram-positive, sphere-shaped (coccal) bacteria (see figure ) cause many disorders, including... read more bacteria. However, it can also be caused by other bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus Streptococcal Infections Streptococcal infections are caused by any one of several species of Streptococcus. These gram-positive, sphere-shaped (coccal) bacteria (see figure ) cause many disorders, including... read more , including a strain of Staphylococcus called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) Staphylococcus aureus is the most dangerous of all of the many common staphylococcal bacteria. These gram-positive, sphere-shaped (coccal) bacteria (see figure ) often cause skin infections... read more ).
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 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.