Erysipelas is a skin condition similar to cellulitis, but affects only the upper layer of the skin. It was thought before that it only appears on the face but later on, doctors claim that it also appears on the arm, leg, and torso. It is caused by Group A Streptococcus bacterium, and it commonly occurs in infants and older people. Other known causes are surgical incisions, insect bites, psoriasis, swollen legs due to health problems and injection of illegal drugs.
Signs and symptoms of erysipelas can develop and appear in just a couple of hours or days. First symptoms include shivering, chills and fever then followed by skin issues like:
- warm and tender to the touch
- redness, swollen and shiny
- red streaks above the affected area
- purple or black in serious cases
Who is at risk?
Young children ages 2 to 6 years old and adults over 60 years old are more likely to develop erysipelas. Older adults who have weak immune systems or who have problems with fluid buildup after surgery are at the highest risk.
Erysipelas can be diagnosed by highlighting the person’s medical history to a doctor. Then, he will check the appearance of the affected area before performing a blood test.
Nothing beats a person that knows how to prevent worse cases related to his illness. You can lower the risk of getting erysipelas by treating and cleaning wounds, using moisturizer to maintain skin elasticity and treating any related skin problems.
If you have mild erysipelas, you can just treat it at home by raising the affected area higher than your body to reduce the swelling. You can take medication if the condition got worse such as antibiotics that can be done at home or in a hospital depending on the severity. Serious case of erysipelas requires a surgery to cut away a dead tissue, but it rarely happens.
While erysipelas are difficult to prevent, keep these things in mind all the time:
- Always keep wounds clean
- Treat athlete’s foot if you have it
- Use moisturizers to prevent skin from drying and cracking
- Try not to scratch your skin
- Make sure any skin problems, such as eczema, are treated effectively
You can also prevent future incidences of erysipelas by attending follow-up appointments with your doctor. They can make sure that the infection hasn’t come back or spread to other areas of the body.
Antibiotics can treat erysipelas within a week but it should be maintained if you have a series of skin issues. Usually, the affected skin will peel until it will be back to its normal state.