There are many popular names for describing this skin infection like ‘holy fire’, ‘Ignis sacer’ and ‘St. Anthony’s fire’ etc. The infection of the skin is caused due to bacteria which damages the epidermis layer of the skin. Erysipelas is also known as ‘Red skin’ in Greek. The disorder is quite common in elderly persons and infants who have poor immune system. Individuals who have diabetes and reduced immunity will also be infected by erysipelas. In some cases infection may spread on the skin after surgeries like mastectomy, bypass surgery and pelvic surgery.
A streptococcus bacterium is known to cause the infection on the skin producing erysipelas. Other common causes are wound or cut in the skin and drainage problems through veins. People with ulcerous skin are prone to this illness at high rate.
Headache, fever, chills and vomiting are some of the common symptoms of this disease. Either some or all the symptoms may develop after bacteria infects the open skin. The skin becomes dark red in color with swollen and hardened rashes. The lesions would grow rapidly and the corners are slightly raised. The infected skin may cause severe pain. In severe cases the infection spreads inside epidermal layer of the skin damaging vesicels and bullae. It may result in skin necrosis. Although the infection may occur in any part of the body it is largely seen in legs and face. The fat tissue or extremities are more susceptible to erysipelas than other parts.
The doctor will look for the presence of rash and lesions on the skin. Further he may ask you to go for blood culture and sepsis test.
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Erysipelas can be treated by proper medications which are given either in oral form or intravenous method. Drugs like penicillin and erythromycin are effective in killing bacteria causing skin infection. Though the symptoms may subside after intake of medicines, the skin may take some time to get its original color and texture. In some cases re-infection may occur and hence doctors would prescribe prophylactic antibiotics.