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Erysipelas of the face due to invasive Streptococcus.
Erysipelas (Greek ἐρυσίπελας—red skin; also known as "Ignis sacer", "holy fire", and "St. Anthony's fire":260 in some countries) is an acute streptococcus bacterial infection of the upper dermis and superficial lymphatics.
Risk factors 
This disease is most common among the elderly, infants, and children. People with immune deficiency, diabetes, alcoholism, skin ulceration, fungal infections and impaired lymphatic drainage (e.g., after mastectomy, pelvic surgery, bypass grafting) are also at increased risk.
Signs and symptoms 
Patients typically develop symptoms including high fevers, 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, hardened and painful rash, similar in consistency to an orange peel. More severe infections can result in vesicles, bullae, and petechiae, with possible skin necrosis. Lymph nodes may be swollen, and lymphedema may occur. Occasionally, a red streak extending to the lymph node can be seen.
The infection may occur on any part of the skin including the face, arms, fingers, legs and toes, but it tends to favor the extremities. Fat tissue is most susceptible to infection, and facial areas typically around the eyes, ears, and cheeks. Repeated infection of the extremities can lead to chronic swelling (lymphadenitis).
Most cases of erysipelas are due to Streptococcus pyogenes (also known as beta-hemolytic group A streptococci), although non-group A streptococci can also be the causative agent. Beta-hemolytic, non-group A streptococci include Streptococcus agalactiae, also known as group B strep or GBS. Historically, the face was most affected; today the legs are affected most often. The rash is due to an exotoxin, not the Strep. bacteria itself and is found in areas where no symptoms are present - e.g. the infection may be in the nasopharynx, but the rash is found usually on the face and arms.
Erysipelas infections can enter the skin through minor trauma, insect bites, dog bites, eczema, surgical incisions and ulcers, and often originate from strep bacteria in the subject's own nasal passages. Infection sets in after a small scratch or abrasion spreads resulting in toxaemia.
Erysipelas does not affect subcutaneous tissue. It does not release pus, only serum or serous fluid. Subcutaneous edema may lead the physician to misdiagnose it as cellulitis, but the style of the rash is much more well circumscribed and sharply marginated than the rash of cellulitis.
This disease is diagnosed mainly by the appearance of well-demarcated rash and inflammation. Blood cultures are unreliable for diagnosis of the disease, but may be used to test for sepsis. Erysipelas must be differentiated from herpes zoster, angioedema, contact dermatitis, and diffuse inflammatory carcinoma of the breast.
Depending on the severity, treatment involves either oral or intravenous antibiotics, using penicillins, clindamycin or erythromycin. While illness symptoms resolve in a day or two, the skin may take weeks to return to normal.
Because of the risk of reinfection, prophylactic antibiotics are sometimes used after resolution of the initial condition. However, this approach does not always stop reinfection.
- Spread of infection to other areas of body through the bloodstream (bacteremia), including septic arthritis. Glomerulonephritis can follow from a streptococcal erysipelas or other skin infection, but not rheumatic fever.
- Recurrence of infection—Erysipelas can recur in 18–30% of cases even after antibiotic treatment.
- Lymphatic damage
- Necrotizing fasciitis—commonly known as "the flesh-eating bug". A potentially deadly exacerbation of the infection if it spreads to deeper tissue.
- Princess Amelia of the United Kingdom (died 1810)
- Anne, Queen of Great Britain (d. 1714)
- James A. Bailey, American circus impresario (d. 1906)#
- Laura Bridgman, first deaf-blind American child to gain a significant education in English (d. 1889)
- John Brown, Scottish personal servant to Queen Victoria (d. 1883)
- George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon, English aristocrat (d. 1923, leading to the story of the "Curse of King Tut")
- Father Solanus Casey, American Capuchin priest (d. 1957)
- Ann Rogers Clark, mother of American Revolution hero George Rogers Clark and explorer William Clark (d. 1799)
- William H. Crawford, Secretary of the Treasury under President James Monroe (d. 1834)
- John Dryden, English poet (d. 1700)
- Pope Gregory XVI (d. 1846)
- John of the Cross, Spanish saint (d. 1591)
- Charles Lamb, English poet and essayist (d. 1834)
- Jack Boylan, Victorian gentleman, gay rights campaigner (d. 1906)
- Édouard Lucas, French mathematician (d. 1891)
- Rev. Robert Lusk, Presbyterian minister (d. 1845)
- Doc Middleton, American outlaw (d. 1913)
- Murray Morrison, American politician and judge (d. 1871)
- Johann Joseph Most, German-American anarchist (d. 1906)
- Samuel Parr, English schoolmaster & author, (d. 1825)
- Orlando Metcalfe Poe, American military engineer (d. 1895)
- Isaac V. Vanderpoel, American lawyer and politician (d. 1871)
- Saad Zaghloul, Egyptian revolutionary and prime minister (d. 1927)
In animals 
Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae can also infect humans, but in that case the infection is known as erysipeloid.
See also 
- James, William D.; Berger, Timothy G.; et al. (2006). Andrews' Diseases of the Skin: clinical Dermatology. Saunders Elsevier. ISBN 0-7216-2921-0.
- "erysipelas" at Dorland's Medical Dictionary
- See eMedicine link
- Koster JB, Kullberg BJ, van der Meer JW (2007). "Recurrent erysipelas despite antibiotic prophylaxis: an analysis from case studies". The Netherlands journal of medicine 65 (3): 89–94. PMID 17387234.
- Wollenweber, Brother Leo (2002). "Meet Solanus Casey". St. Anthony Messenger Press, Cincinnati, Ohio, page 107, ISBN 1-56955-281-9,
- America the Beautiful by Lynn Sherr
- Green, Elizabeth Alden (1979). Mary Lyon and Mount Holyoke. Hanover, New Hampshire: University Press of New England. p. 310. ISBN 0-87451-172-0.
- Capaldi, Nicholas (2004). John Stuart Mill: a biography. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 356. ISBN 0-521-62024-4.
- Erysipelas Overview Health in Plain English - with pictures
- Cellulitis Treatment for Skin Infection - Without Pictures
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