(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 How Bacteria Shape Up) cause many... 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 How Bacteria Shape Up) cause many... 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 How Bacteria Shape Up)... read more ). Erysipelas occurs most frequently on the legs and face.
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. In some forms of erysipelas, blisters form on the skin. People often have a high fever, chills, and a general feeling of illness (malaise).
A doctor's evaluation
Doctors base the diagnosis of erysipelas on the characteristic appearance of the rash.
Sometimes doctors send blood samples to a laboratory to identify the bacteria (called a culture) if the person is very sick.
Antibiotics given by mouth, such as penicillin, can cure the infection. If doctors suspect the person has MRSA, the antibiotics trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole, clindamycin, or doxycycline can be given by mouth, but if the infection is severe, vancomycin or linezolid is given by vein.
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.
Compression stockings can be used to lessen swelling caused by erysipelas on a leg.
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