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  • Erysipelas: photos, symptoms and treatment, causes

    Erysipelas, or erysipelas - a serious infectious chronic disease of streptococcal etiology, characterized by a tendency to develop frequent, persistent relapses and complications. The disease is known since the time of Hippocrates.

    In Europe, it was spoken of as "the fire of St. Anthony" because of the specific light red spots on the skin that looked like a flame. As early as the beginning of the 20th century every second child died from erysipelas. Nowadays, in 80% of cases, the disease develops on the lower limbs and only 20% on the face.

    Reasons for the appearance of erysipelas on the foot


    As usual, erysipelatous inflammation ranks fourth among infectious diseases after the flu, viral hepatitis and dysentery. As a result of several studies, various factors provoking the disease were discovered. Among them:

    • circulatory disturbance;
    • lymphostasis;
    • damage to the skin or mucous membranes;
    • mycosis stop;
    • sudden temperature changes;
    • sedentary work;
    • injury;
    • hereditary predisposition;
    • diabetes;
    • bad habits( smoking);
    • stress.
    All of the above factors can cause the development of erysipelas on the leg, provided that the immunity is reduced. In this case, after getting streptococcus in the body, an inadequate response of the immune system is observed, which is expressed by excessive production of immunoglobulin E and a decrease in the number of T-lymphocytes with immunoglobulins A, M, and G. On the background of the imbalance of immune cells, an allergy develops.

    The causative agent, as already mentioned, is the β-hemolytic streptococcus of group A, for which the entrance gates have injuries, abrasions and scuffs. It is also possible to penetrate the body through contaminated tools, dressings.

    Symptoms of erysipelas on the foot


    The first symptoms of erysipelas on the leg always debut with the expressed signs of intoxication: the temperature rises to 38-40 °, the headache and muscle pain, shattering, chills. These signs are usually ahead of several hours or days of manifestation of local inflammatory processes. Paresthesia, not very intense pain, burning or bursting sensation may be attached.

    Within the first 24 hours the limb turns red, becomes swollen and hot to the touch. The bright red lesions are delineated by an inflammatory, sharply painful shaft. Pain is of a superficial nature and occurs when it comes into contact with the tissue, almost does not disturb it. On hyperemic areas there is no transition to cyanotic colors.

    With a severe form of the disease( bullous mug), the upper layer of the skin may peel off to form blisters filled with serous or hemorrhagic contents. Later on these places appear dense crusts, holding for 2-3 weeks. Possible development of trophic ulcers and erosion. A symptom of fluctuations, which is very important in the diagnosis of purulent-inflammatory diseases, with erysipelas is absent.

    On average, during treatment, the symptoms of erysipelas on the leg go to 5-8 days, but can also be observed 10-14 days after the onset of the disease. The disease passes, leaving behind pigmented areas, pasty and flaking of the skin. The development of lymphostasis and elephantiasis is not ruled out. Long-lasting pigmentation of the skin can indicate a possible early recurrence of erysipelas.

    How to treat an erysipelas on the leg


    Infectionists and surgeons deal with treatment of erysipelas. Uncomplicated forms of erysipelas on the leg are to be treated in infectious departments, and therapy, for example, phlegmon-necrotic forms, is the prerogative of surgical specialists.

    In the treatment of erysipelas, the most effective way is to use antibacterial drugs, which is based on the etiological role of hemolytic streptococcus. According to reviews, among the most effective antibiotics should be allocated erythromycin, penicillins, clindamycin, which are taken either orally or parenterally. Local application in the form of ointments( erythromycin ointment) and powders is also shown.

    In uncomplicated forms of the disease, the gradual application of compression zinc-gelatin dressings is shown to improve lymphovenous drainage, prevent thrombosis, rapidly eliminate edema of the affected limb.

    In addition to antibiotic therapy, physiotherapy is prescribed. In particular, local ultraviolet irradiation is used, the effect of light discharges of electric current, laser exposure in the infrared light range. A good result is provided by cryotherapy, in which the surface layers of the skin are frozen until whitening.

    Prophylaxis of


    After once having had the disease, erysipelas can reappear. Very often a relapse occurs against a background of any concomitant disease. Therefore, prevention is the timely treatment of erysipelas on the leg.

    It is also necessary to monitor the cleanness of the skin and strictly follow the rules of asepsis in the treatment of wounds and cracks. Clothes should be free, not rubbing the skin and letting air through. Feet very often become the gateway to infection, so you need to treat fungal diseases in time.(see how to treat the foot fungus.)

    There are also antibacterial long-acting drugs( bicillin) that prevent streptococcus reproduction. They are taken for a long time( from 1 month to 2-3 years) strictly according to the doctor's indications in cases with regular recurrences of erysipelas on the leg.


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