Erysipelas

This is an intense red rash which develops on the face, arms and legs which is caused by the streptococcus A bacteria. It occurs within the fat tissues and skin and particularly affects elderly people.

But it is also develops in young people and anyone with an autoimmune disorder or weakened immune system, e.g. HIV.

This is an unpleasant and distressing form of cellulitis.

Causes of erysipelas

This condition develops if the streptococcus A bacteria accesses the skin as a result of an illness, injury or infection. For example, a cut or graze on the skin is a known trigger for this condition.

Other factors include:

  • Skin conditions such as eczema
  • Medical conditions, e.g. diabetes
  • Fungal infections
  • Alcoholism
  • Surgery, e.g. surgical incision
  • Ulcers

These are all risk factors for this condition.

Symptoms of erysipelas

This causes a whole host of symptoms that are extremely unpleasant for the sufferer. The main symptom is a red, warm, inflamed, hardened and painful rash which has a bright red colour and in some cases, causes blisters to form.

These lesions develop on the nose and cheeks but the legs are affected in the majority of cases.

This rash is accompanied by a fever, chills, aches and pains.

Diagnosing erysipelas

This is diagnosed from skin observation. Your GP will examine the affected areas of your skin before prescribing a course of treatment.

Treatment for erysipelas

The important thing to remember is that erysipelas is an infection and infections are usually treated with antibiotics. These are taken orally although a severe case will be given these intravenously.

You will be given long term antibiotics if you suffer from regular outbreaks of erysipelas.

Treatment is effective and results in normal skin in just a few weeks. Expect your skin to peel as part of the healing process but it will return to its normal state.

Is there a risk of complications? A few people are unlucky to develop septic shock if bacteria enter the bloodstream and spreads throughout the body. This is extremely serious and requires urgent medical attention.