Merck Manual

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Erysipelas

By

Wingfield E. Rehmus

, MD, MPH, University of British Columbia

Medically Reviewed Apr 2021 | Modified Sep 2022
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Topic Resources

Symptoms

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).

Diagnosis

  • 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.

Treatment

  • Antibiotics

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.

Drugs Mentioned In This Article

Generic Name Select Brand Names
Primsol, Proloprim, TRIMPEX
Cleocin, Cleocin Ovules, Cleocin Pediatric, Cleocin T, CLIN, Clindacin ETZ, Clindacin-P, Clinda-Derm , Clindagel, ClindaMax, ClindaReach, Clindesse, Clindets, Evoclin, PledgaClin, XACIATO
Acticlate, Adoxa, Adoxa Pak, Avidoxy, Doryx, Doxal, Doxy 100, LYMEPAK, Mondoxyne NL, Monodox, Morgidox 1x, Morgidox 2x , Okebo, Oracea, Oraxyl, Periostat, TARGADOX, Vibramycin, Vibra-Tabs
Vancocin, Vancocin Powder, VANCOSOL
Zyvox, Zyvox Powder, Zyvox Solution
NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: VIEW PROFESSIONAL VERSION
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