Written by Diane Sievert
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Erysipelas is a skin infection that is superficial but does affect the cutaneous lymphatics. Therefore individuals with weakened immune systems are at an increased risk of infection. If you have a condition that puts you at a higher risk of basic infection (i.e., diabetes, alcohol abuse, lymphedema, AIDS or HIV, etc.) you should be on the lookout for erysipelas.

Some Basic Information on Erysipelas

Like cellulitis, erysipelas is a bacterial infection that affects the skin and most often occurs close to areas of skin trauma. However, unlike cellulitis, erysipelas is only superficial in nature. It does, however, spread through the lymphatic systems which can create streaking on the skin's surface.

In the past, erysipelas most often occurred on the face, but times have changed and today it generally appears on the legs and lower extremities. Symptoms of erysipelas include tenderness of the affected area, fever, chills and swelling. Most often an erysipelas infection will begin as a patch with clear borders that will harden, become shiny, and eventually spread.

Erysipelas is most often caused by the bacteria Streptococci so a prescription for antibiotics, usually penicillin or one of its derivatives, is the best form of treatment. In addition to antibiotic treatment, however, health care professionals also recommend that the affected area be elevated and rested in order to reduce swelling and inflammation. If the infection has turned into a lesion of some sort, apply wet saline dressings every two to twelve hours.

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