Erysipelas is a bacterial infection in the upper layer of the skin. It is similar to another skin disorder known as cellulitis, which is an infection in the lower layers of the skin. Both conditions are similar in appearance and are treated in the same way. The infection results in large, raised red patches on the skin. This is sometimes accompanied by other symptoms, including blisters, fevers, and chills. Erysipelas most frequently occurs on the face and legs. The infection can usually be treated effectively with antibiotics.


At APPOTEK you can get help with Erysipelas.


Erysipelas occurs when Group A Streptococcus bacteria penetrate the outer barrier of your skin. These bacteria normally live on your skin and other surfaces without causing any harm. However, they can enter your skin through a cut or a sore and cause an infection. Conditions that cause breaks in the skin, such as athlete’s foot and eczema sometimes lead to erysipelas. Erysipelas may also occur when the bacteria spread to nasal passages following an infection in the nose and throat.


Other causes of erysipelas include:


  • ulcers in the skin
  • surgical incisions
  • insect bites
  • dog bites
  • certain skin conditions, such as psoriasis
  • swollen legs due to health problems, such as heart failure or diabetes
  • injection of illegal drugs, such as heroin


If you have had erysipelas once, there is a higher risk of having it again.


Typical symptoms include high fever, shaking, chills, fatigue, headaches, vomiting, and general illness within 48 hours of the initial infection. The erythematous skin lesion enlarges rapidly and has a sharply demarcated, raised edge. It appears as a red, swollen, warm, and painful rash, similar in consistency to an orange peel. Lymph nodes may be swollen, and lymphedema may occur. 


The infection may occur on any part of the skin, including the face, arms, fingers, legs and toes.

Prevention and protection

You can take the following steps to lower your risk of getting erysipelas:


  • Always keep wounds clean.
  • Treat athlete’s foot if you have it.
  • Use moisturizers to prevent skin from drying and cracking.
  • Try not to scratch your skin.
  • Make sure any skin problems, such as eczema, are treated effectively.


You can also prevent future incidences of erysipelas by attending follow-up appointments with your doctor. They can make sure that the infection hasn’t come back or spread to other parts of the body.


Young children (especially 2 to 6 years old) and adults over age 60 are more likely to develop erysipelas. Older adults who have weak immune systems or who have problems with fluid buildup after surgery are at the highest risk.


Antibiotics, such as penicillin, are the most common treatment for erysipelas. You may be able to take an oral prescription at home if you have a mild case of erysipelas. You’ll likely have to take medications for about one week. More serious cases of erysipelas are generally treated at the hospital, where antibiotics can be given through a vein (IV). Young children and older adults may also require treatment in a hospital. Occasionally, the bacteria don’t respond to the antibiotic and it’s necessary to try a different type of drug.


You may also be given painkillers to reduce discomfort and treat the fever.


Antifungal medication for athlete’s foot may be required if this is the cause of your erysipelas.

When to consult a doctor

Contact a doctor if you have a sudden redness of the skin with a deterioration in your general condition or fever – or where the redness of skin increases in size.

How APPOTEK can help

APPOTEK can help you with erysipelas. A nurse or doctor will make an individual assessment based on your symptoms. You may then be prescribed treatment or referred for further examination. If your child is affected, they should also attend the consultation.


Vadym Diadiun, Doctor of Medicine, M.D.