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Category: Dermatology | Infections

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Erysipelas overview

Published: July 17, 2009. Updated: August 09, 2009

Erysipelas is an infection of the skin by streptococci. The infection is subcutaneous and is more superficial than cellulitis and hence well demarcated.

Symptoms and signs

The skin is painful, red, and tender. Patients experience fever and chills. Bullae and vesicles may occur and leave crusts when they rupture. Regional lymph gland enlargement is common.

The erysipelas rash may occur on face, arms, or legs and has raised borders. The infection may recur, causing chronic swelling of extremities (lymphadenitis).


Cellulitis begins with minor trauma, such as a bruise, usually to an extremity.


The organism may be cultured from skin lesions or recovered from blood.


Erysipelas usually responds to penicillin or erythromycin. Depending on the severity, treatment involves either oral or intravenous antibiotics.

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