Name = Erysipelas

Caption = Erysipelas
DiseasesDB = 4428
ICD10 = ICD10|A|46|0|a|30
ICD9 = ICD9|035
MedlinePlus = 000618
eMedicineSubj = derm
eMedicineTopic = 129
MeshID = D004886

Erysipelas (Greek ερυσίπελας - "red skin") is an acute streptococcus bacterial infection [DorlandsDict|three/000036667|erysipelas] of the dermis, resulting in inflammation and characteristically extending into underlying fat tissue.

Risk factors

This disease is most common among the elderly, infants, and children. People with immune deficiency, diabetes, alcoholism, skin ulceration, fungal infections and impaired lymphatic drainage (e.g., after mastectomy, pelvic surgery, bypass grafting) are also at increased risk.

igns and symptoms

Patients typically develop symptoms including high fevers, shaking, chills, fatigue, headaches, vomiting, and general illness within 48 hours of the initial infection. The erythematous skin lesion enlarges rapidly and has a sharply demarcated raised edge. It appears as a red, swollen, warm, hardened and painful rash, similar in consistency to an orange peel. More severe infections can result in vesicles, bullae, and petechiae, with possible skin necrosis. Lymph nodes may be swollen, and lymphedema may occur. Occasionally, a red streak extending to the lymph node can be seen.

The infection may occur on any part of the skin including the face, arms, fingers, legs and toes, but it tends to favor the extremities. Fat tissue is most susceptible to infection, and facial areas typically around the eyes, ears, and cheeks. Repeated infection of the extremities can lead to chronic swelling (lymphadenitis).


Most cases of erysipelas are due to "Streptococcus pyogenes" (also known as group A streptococci), although non-group A streptococci can also be the causative agent. Historically, the face was most affected; today the legs are affected most often. [See eMedicine link]

Erysipelas infections can enter the skin through minor trauma, eczema, surgical incisions and ulcers, and often originate from strep bacteria in the subject's own nasal passages.


This disease is mainly diagnosed by the appearance of well-demarcated rash and inflammation. Blood cultures are unreliable for diagnosis of the disease, but may be used to test for sepsis. Erysipelas must be differentiated from herpes zoster, angioedema, contact dermatitis, and diffuse inflammatory carcinoma of the breast.

Erysipelas can be distinguished from cellulitis by its raised advancing edges and sharp borders.Elevation of the antistreptolysin O titre occurs after around 10 days of illness.


Depending on the severity, treatment involves either oral or intravenous antibiotics, using penicillins, clindamycin or erythromycin. While illness symptoms resolve in a day or two, the skin may take weeks to return to normal.

Because of the risk of reinfection, prophylactic antibiotics are sometimes used after resolution of the initial condition. However, this approach does not always stop reinfection.cite journal |author=Koster JB, Kullberg BJ, van der Meer JW |title=Recurrent erysipelas despite antibiotic prophylaxis: an analysis from case studies |journal=The Netherlands journal of medicine |volume=65 |issue=3 |pages=89–94 |year=2007 |pmid=17387234 |doi=]


*Spread of infection to other areas of body through the bloodstream (bacteremia), including septic arthritis and infective endocarditis (heart valves).
*Septic shock.
*Recurrence of infection – Erysipelas can recur in 18-30% of cases even after antibiotic treatment.
*Lymphatic damage
*Necrotizing fasciitis -- AKA "the flesh-eating bug." A potentially-deadly exacerbation of the infection if it spreads to deeper tissue.


*Father Solanus Casey, Capuchin monk and 20th Century spiritual figure, 1870-1957, USA [Wollenweber, Brother Leo (2002) "Meet Solanus Casey", St. Anthony Messanger Press, Cincinnati, Ohio Page 107 ISBN 1-56955-281-9]
*Charles Lamb
*Princess Amelia, daughter of George III
*Miller Huggins, manager of the New York Yankees from 1918 until his death in 1929
*James A. Bailey
*George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon
*Anne of Great Britain
*William H. Crawford, Secretary of the Treasury in the administration of President James Monroe.
*John Stuart Mill; political philosopher most famous for his work "On Liberty"cite book |author=Capaldi, Nicholas |title=John Stuart Mill: a biography |publisher=Cambridge University Press |location=Cambridge, UK |year=2004 |pages=356 |isbn=0-521-62024-4 |oclc= |doi=]
*Judith of Swabia, daughter of the Holy Roman Emperor Henry III
* John Herbert White, son of Ellen G. White and her husband James. Died at 3 months of age.
* Pope Gregory XVI
*Isaac V. Vanderpoel, NYS Treasurer 1858-1859

In animals

Erysipelas is also the name given to an infection in animals caused by the bacterium "Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae". Infection by "Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae" in humans is a separate entity known as erysipeloid.


External links

* [ Erysipelas Overview] Health in Plain English - with pictures

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • erysipelas — late 14c., skin disease also known as St. Anthony s Fire, from Gk. erysipelas, perhaps from erythros red + pella skin (see FILM (Cf. film)). Erythros is cognate with L. ruber, rufus, Goth. rauþs, O.E. read from the PIE root for red (see …   Etymology dictionary

  • erysipelas — [er΄i sip′ə ləs, ir΄ə sip′ə ləs] n. [ME erisipela < L erysipelas < Gr < base of erythros, RED + pelas, akin to L pellis: see FELL4] an acute infectious disease of the skin or mucous membranes caused by a streptococcus and characterized… …   English World dictionary

  • erysipelas — er y*sip e*las ([e^]r [i^]*s[i^]p [ e]*las), n. [L., fr. Gr. erysi pelas; eryqro s red + pe lla hide, skin. See {Red}, and {Pell}, n.] (Med.) St. Anthony s fire; a febrile disease accompanied with a diffused red edematous inflammation of the skin …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Erysipĕlas — (gr., Med.), die Rose, daher Erysipelatöse Entzündung, so v.w. Rosenartige Entzündung …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Erysipĕlas — (griech.), soviel wie Rotlauf oder Rose (s.d.); erysipelatös, rosen oder rotlaufartig, von der Rose (Rotlauf) befallen …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Erysipelas — Erysipelas, griech., wandernde Haut oder Zellgewebsentzündung …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • erysipelas — erysipelatous /er euh si pel euh teuhs, ear /, adj. /er euh sip euh leuhs, ear euh /, n. 1. Pathol. an acute, febrile infectious disease, caused by a specific streptococcus, characterized by diffusely spreading deep red inflammation of the skin… …   Universalium

  • erysipelas — A specific, acute, superficial cutaneous cellulitis caused by β hemolytic streptococci and characterized by hot, red, edematous, brawny, and sharply defined eruptions; usually accompanied by severe constitutional symptoms. [G., fr. erythros, red… …   Medical dictionary

  • Erysipelas — Ery|si|pel, das; s, e, Ery|si|pe|las, das; , …pelata [lat. erysipelas < griech. erysi̓pelas, viell. zu: erythrós = rot u. eigtl. = das die Haut Rötende] (Med.): Wundrose. * * * Ery|si|pel, das; s, e, Ery|si|pe|las, das; , ...pelata [lat.… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • erysipelas — er•y•sip•e•las [[t]ˌɛr əˈsɪp ə ləs, ˌɪər ə [/t]] n. pat a deep red rash of the skin and mucous membranes accompanied by fever and pain, caused by any of a group of hemolytic streptococci • Etymology: 1350–1400; ME erisipila < L erysipelas < …   From formal English to slang

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