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Erysipelas ˌer-ə-ˈsip-(ə-)ləs, ˌir-

By A. Damian Dhar, MD, JD, Private Practice, North Atlanta Dermatology

Erysipelas is a superficial form of cellulitis typically caused by streptococci.

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. It occurs most frequently on the legs and face. People often have a high fever, chills, and a general feeling of illness (malaise).

Doctors base the diagnosis on the characteristic appearance of the rash.

Antibiotics given by mouth, such as penicillin, can cure the infection. For a severe infection, intravenous penicillin is needed. Cold packs and drugs for pain may relieve discomfort. Fungal foot infections may be an entry site for infection and may require treatment with antifungal drugs to prevent recurrence.

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