Merck Manual

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A. Damian Dhar

, MD, JD, North Atlanta Dermatology

Last full review/revision Oct 2019| Content last modified Oct 2019
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Erysipelas is a superficial form of skin infection (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. In some forms of erysipelas, blisters form on the skin. People often have a high fever, chills, and a general feeling of illness (malaise).

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. For a severe infection or an infection of the face, penicillin or vancomycin 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 leg erysipelas.

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