Erysipelas – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Erysipelas is a Skin infection caused by Bacteria.  It can extend to the Cutaneous Lymphatics. It was first discovered in middle Ages, it was known as St. Anthony’s fire, named after an Egyptian healer, he was famous for treating different infections.

Erysipelas was first occurred on face and it was caused by Streptococcus Pyogenes. Now, this infection is mostly found on Legs and Arms. A Streptococcus is also identified as the Etiologic Agents.

It is highly discomforting Skin condition which should be treated in time. It involves the Lymphatic system in it. In pre-antibiotic time, it was a very severe disease mostly found in infants.

Facial Erysipelas

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Definition of Erysipelas

It is a type of Skin infection that is mostly caused by the Bacterial microbes. It is a variation of Cellulitis. This disease in also known as

  • Holy Fire
  • St. Anthony’s Fire
  • Ignis Sacer

The name of this disease is a Greek word and it means “Red Skin”.

Erysipelas and Cellulitis

Erysipelas is the type of Cellulitis, where Celuulitis is identified by burning sensation in the upper layer of Skin. It can also cause swelling in the Skin and in the deep lying tissues inside the Skin. Erysipelas and Cellulitis are differentiated by the intensity of Inflammation caused.

Types of Erysipelas

Following is the type of Erysipelas

  1. Swine Erysipelas
  2. Bullous Erysipelas
  1. Swine Erysipelas

    This is a type of this disease that only affects the Pigs. This disease is caused in Pigs due to the result of infection, which is caused by a Bacterium known as Erysipelothrix Rhusiopathiae. This Bacterium is mostly found in the Pig Farms.

    Erysipelas in Swine can lead to fever, stillbirths, illness, stiffness of joints and other such conditions. If this situation is not treated in time, it can cause death. Pigs in growing age have risk of this disease.

  2. Bullous Erysipelas

    It is a type of Erysipelas that is caused by the Bacteria known as Staphylococcus Aureus. It is a brutal condition that can lead to the formation of Blisters on the Skin. Fever, Chills and Nausea are some of the symptoms of this disorder and it is a rare form of condition.

Causes of Erysipelas

This disease is caused by an infection of Bacterial microbes. This Bacterial microbe is mostly A Streptococcal.
This Bacterial infection is infectious in nature and it can be transferred from one person to another through Air, Saliva, droplets of Cough, transfusion of Blood and sexual link. This infection can pass from mother to the Fetus.

Following factors can increase the risk of this disease

  • Cuts on the surface of Skin
  • Skin sores
  • Problems in Lymphatic system

The general cause of this infection is Streptococcus Pyogenes Bacterium. Other causes of Erysipelas can be

  • Streptococci B infection
  • Streptococci C infection
  • Streptococci G infection
  • Staphylococci infection

The Microbes can enter in to the Skin through wounds, injuries, Ulcers and Abrasions. This infection can also enter in the body due to bites of Insects.

Symptoms of Erysipelas

The symptoms of this disease are discomforting. Some of these symptoms are

  • Fever
  • Shaking
  • Chills
  • Red rashes on Skin
  • Swollen Skin
  • Warm feeling under Lesion
  • Blisters
  • Pain

The Lesions are mostly found on the Arms, Legs and Face. These Sores get enlarge and may spread to the other areas of body. Blisters appear on the surface of Skin. In case of Face, these Lesions appear on the Nose or on the Cheek’s area.
People suffering from this disease may complain about symptoms like pain in Muscles, Vomiting, Nausea, loss of Appetite, Stiffness of joints and feeling lazy and sick all the time.

Diagnosis of Erysipelas

This disease is mostly diagnosed with the appearance of rashes on the Skin. Blood tests and the Skin biopsies do not work for the diagnosis.

In the old times, Saline Solution was injected at the area of rash and then a sample is taken from that Skin to diagnose for the Bacteria.

This method of diagnosis is not used at present because Bacteria were not found in many cases. If the symptoms like fever and fatigue are obvious then sometimes Blood in taken and diagnosis is made to check for the presence of Bacteria.

Treatment of Erysipelas

Doctors mostly suggest the Antibiotic medications for the treatment of this infection.

Penicillin is an important Antibiotic used for the treatment. In severe cases, Antibiotic medicines are monitored through an Intravenous Line.

The rashes that appear on the Skin are very painful and can also cause fever and chills. It is really important to treat these rashes with the appropriate medicines, if they are diagnosed.

At the initial stage, cure includes the intake of Oral Penicillin or other antibiotics obtained from Penicillin for almost a period of 2 weeks. If a patient is allergic to Penicillin, then they are recommended other antibiotics.

This infection can spread easily and quickly with in the body like joints etc. If a person gets rashes on their Legs and Arms but they don’t get it treated then they have to take Antibiotics for the rest of their life. Antibiotics are really effective in minimizing this infection. The symptoms of this disease are so painful that patients mostly opt for early diagnosis.
Patients who are suffering from recurring tracks of this disease are required to take Antibiotics for longer time.

Erysipelas Vs Cellulitis

The main difference between these 2 infectious diseases is identified by the clinical symptoms.

Erysipelas is identified by sudden fever and other abnormalities like Chills etc. Cellulitis appears by Low grade fever, which arises suddenly.

Ignis Sacer can cause Grayish-Brown spots on the Skin of individual that becomes dark with the passage of time. It can also lead to Red Skin in the people of Caucasian origin.

Cellulitis can cause Brownish-Black spots in people with dark Skin, Caucasian people Red Skin due to this condition.
Ignis Sacer people have hot and soft Plaques that are shiny and have clearly-defined borders. This infection can spread to the other parts of Skin.

Sufferers of Cellulitis have spots with less defined borders.

Sensation of burning and pain are 2 main symptoms of Ignis Sacer and Cellulitis can cause Inflammation and warmth in the nearer parts of Skin.


Image by : wikimedia


Image by : wikimedia

Is Erysipelas Contagious?

Erysipelas is a very contagious disease because it is caused by a Bacterial infection that can spread easily. It can spread by Physical link, touching of Sputum, Saliva or Blood of an infected person.

Other family members, who take care of the patient, should obtain proper care, when they clean and dry the Lesions of them. This disease can easily strike other people too.

Erysipelas is a condition that can be completely cured and if it is treated properly, no spots are left over on the Skin. If you feel that you are suffering from this disease or anyone else around you is a patient of this disease, just don’t delay and urgently consult a doctor. Early diagnosis and treatment and make your life easy and comfortable by reducing complications for your present and future as well, otherwise the results of this disease can be highly painful.

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