Erysipelas (St. Anthony’s fire)

Erisypelas is a skin infection caused by bacteria that enter the skin through a small wound.

Overview

Erisypelas is a skin infection caused by bacteria that enter the skin through a small wound. The infected area turns red, swells, is painful, becomes hot and spreads. The affected body part should be elevated and cooled, but antibiotics are often necessary.

Symptoms

Main symptoms

  • Red rash with sharply demarcated margins
    • Quickly grows bigger
    • Often on the feet or in the face
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Overheating

Other symptoms

  • Neighbouring lymph nodes also swell (e.g. armpit for arm, groin for leg)
  • Fever, possibly chills
  • Feeling of being unwell (Headache, painful limbs)

Causes and treatment

Causes

  • Bacteria
  • Streptococcus, staphylococcus
  • Entry through small injuries such as wounds, nail fungus, etc.
Risk factors

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Blood test (inflammatory markers)
  • Swab if entry point is visible (search for bacteria)
Possible therapies
  • Strict bed rest
  • Elevation of the affected area
  • Cooling
  • Antibiotics

What can I do myself?

  • Immediately disinfect all wounds (even small ones)

When to see a doctor?

  • Red rash that spreads quickly
  • The affected area swells, overheats and is painful
  • Accompanied by fever

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Exclusion of liability

CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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