Erysipelas and Its Treatments
Erysipelas is a superficial bacterial infection of the skin that normally extends into cutaneous lymphatics. This is also aptly called St. Anthony’s fire. So called because of the intensity of the skin complaint and bears the name of the Egyptian healer who was known for successfully treating the infection back in the middle Ages. According to history this infection happened on the face. But due to a shift in the distribution and causes of the disease infections now occur on the legs.
This skin disease can affect all races and all ages. But it is more common on females. The young of the male species are mostly affected because of their more hard-hitting activities. Other studies have indicated that predisposing factors rather than gender, explained for any male/female differences in occurrence.
Erysipelas is brought about by the bacteria called Streptococcus pyogenes. In some cases it can be caused by Staphylococcus bacteria. But other cases erysipelas shows a break in the skin because of trauma or an abrasion. The skin lesions may take a few weeks to heal. But normally no break in the skin can be found.
It is characterized by well distinguished areas of redness, hot skin, pain, fever and chills. The swelling are probably linked with constitution symptoms such as headache, joint pain and back pain.
Group A streptococcal bacterial infection is the most common cause in older people and in children Hemophilus influenza bacterial infection is attributed to be the cause. Antibiotics are the right treatment for this kind of skin disorder. Penicillin and erythromycin are prescribed for adults. For children less than 3 years old immediate treatment with IV cephalosporins such as ceftriaxone is specified.
The diagnosis for patients with erysipelas is very good. There might be complications but they rare, far and in between. The complications if it do happen are not life threatening. More often than not most cases are settled after antibiotic therapy. On the hand there is a possibility of local recurrence. It has been reported that up to 20% of patients with predisposing factors are most likely to experience erysipelas again.
The most common complications associated with erysipelas are heart valve infection, septic arthritis, post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis, cavernous sinus thrombosis and streptococcal toxic shock syndrome. Very rare to occur are osteoarticular complications. This kind of complications usually involves joints closest with the erysipelas plaques and consists of bursitis, osteitis, and tendinitis. Strange and serious sounding names though it may seem, the complications are rarely if not at all sinister.
But there are home medications which can be done to complement the antibiotics. It includes elevating and resting the affected limb. This will lessen local swelling, inflammation and pain. Apply saline wet dressings to lacerated and necrotic lesions. It is necessary to change the dressings every 2 to 12 hours depending on the gravity of the skin infection. But in severe cases hospitalization becomes imperative for close monitoring especially in infants and elderly people.
Most patients with erysipelas respond very well to conventional antibiotic therapy.